The coach of the Rangers is coaching the Rangers Sunday afternoon in Washington, with David Quinn back behind the bench after missing six games after having contracted COVID-19.
“I totally get COVID. Basically the way things have gone, you’re always a little bit worried,” Quinn said before the match. “But never really got sick at all and I was very fortunate to have a very mild reaction to it.
“You can never drop your guard with COVID. I think our organization has done a good job doing everything we can to stay safe and not put people in harm’s way but you can do everything right and still get it. We’re going to continue to follow the protocol and do everything we can to create a safe environment not only for our players but for the staff as well.
“It’s just something we have to manage and deal with.”
Quinn said he was “obviously climbing the walls, not able to get out of the house or go to work,” while lauding the efforts of Kris Knoblauch, the Hartford head coach who stepped in during Quinn’s absence to guide the club to a 4-2 record. Knoblauch is remaining behind the Rangers bench until New York assistant David Oliver is cleared from COVID protocol.
“Kris did a heck of a job. I know he was kind of downplaying his role through the whole situation,” said Quinn. “He and I talked an awful lot and the good news is that we play the same way in Hartford as we do here.
“It was an easy transition. We’re very fortunate we have a coach like him and Hartford to step in and do what he did. Every coach has different strengths and weaknesses and I think we continued to do the things we were doing and I know he added a little bit of his touch to the situation.
“We tried to keep things as normal as possible for the players. It really worked out.”
Quinn pointed to the March 13, 4-0 victory in Boston (in which Artemi Panarin returned from his nine-game leave) as the trigger for the Blueshirts’ recent run that reached 5-1-1 prior to Saturday’s 2-1 defeat in Philadelphia. The coach said that the time away from the team gave him an opportunity to “reset.”
“I think when you step away from a situation, you do get a little bit of a different perspective,” he said. “You see things a little differently.
“I think you give yourself the chance to do some self-evaluation. It was a good opportunity for me to kind of reset and watch things from a different light.”
Keith Kinkaid got the starting assignment in goal while Igor Shesterkin is the backup against the Caps. … Phil DiGiuseppe, who missed seven games on the COVID list, returned to the lineup, filling the hole created by Brendan Lemieux’s trade to the Kings.