Rangers’ Ryan Reaves avoids suspension for illegal hit

Ryan Reaves would fit the NHL Department of Player Safety’s definition of a “repeat offender,” having been suspended for two games during the second round of last season’s playoffs with Vegas after getting a match penalty in Game 1 for kneeling on Ryan Graves’ neck before pulling the Colorado defenseman’s hair.

There is a résumé that also includes two suspensions and three league-issued fines preceding the incident last spring, so it was surely fair to wonder whether the NHL would intervene following No. 75’s penalty for an illegal hit to Andrew Mangiapane’s head at 17:37 of the second period of Saturday’s 6-0 defeat in Calgary.

The answer from Reaves, himself: “No.”

“I wasn’t expecting it,” the winger, who was hunting the puck off the forecheck when he made contact with Mangiapane, said before Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Panthers at the Garden. “It’s probably the first time in my career I wasn’t actually trying to hit the guy.”

Saturday’s match represented Reaves’ first game after missing four with a lower-body injury he’d sustained early in the first period of the club’s Oct. 25 defeat at the Garden to the Flames. The winger was unable to play but he joined his teammates on the bench during the final two periods.

Ryan Reaves
NHLI via Getty Images

“I like to be there with the boys and be supportive,” Reaves said in advance of Monday’s tilt at the Garden against Florida. “They had a little bit of toughness in their lineup and if something by chance had happened that had to be responded to, I probably would have hobbled out there and responded.

“Luckily nothing happened.”

K’Andre Miller looked like the forward he once was into his mid-teens when he went end-to-end in toasting and then turning defenseman Mackenzie Weegar on his way to a top-shelf score for a 3-0 lead at 12:48 of the second period.

Miller said he saw the possibilities as soon as he picked up the puck in front of his net with Weegar “a little flat-footed.” But he also said not to expect this to become a staple of his developing game.

“I’m just focused on keeping the puck out of my net for the time being,” he said.

Libor Hajek was a healthy scratch for the first twelve games and was sent to the AHL Wolf Pack to complete a conditioning assignment lasting up to 14 days. The Rangers needed Hajek’s consent to make the move.

After being scratched for five consecutive contests and seven of the eight previous contests, Julien Gauthier was reinstated to the lineup.

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