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Filip Chytil has ‘good chance’ to make Rangers return vs. Sabres

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Filip Chytil may return to the Rangers lineup Tuesday against the Sabres following a 14-game absence.

“There’s a good chance he’ll play [Tuesday],” head coach David Quinn said following practice Monday afternoon, adding that the 21-year-old center is considered a “game-time decision.”

The Rangers’ depth took a blow when Chytil sustained a hand injury on Jan. 24 and was given an initial recovery timeline of four to six weeks. He practiced with the team for the first time last week but has been kept out of the last two games as the coaching staff continued to evaluate him.

While recovering from his injury, Chytil was placed on the COVID-19 Protocol list Feb. 11. He was removed 10 days later. Chytil said last week that he did contract the coronavirus.

With Chytil set to return, the Rangers may be losing another player for a prolonged period of time. Quinn said Monday that defenseman Anthony Bitetto is considered “day to day” with a lower-body injury.

Rangers Filip Chytil injury
Rangers center Filip Chytil on Jan. 14, 2021.
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The Rangers said there is no timetable for the return of Artemi Panarin, who has missed the last three games while on a leave of absence following uncorroborated assault allegations.


It’s not lost on Alexis Lafreniere that he’s had a slower start to his first pro season than many would’ve hoped to see from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

But after recording an assist in each of the last two games against the Bruins, Lafreniere said he’s liked the way he’s played recently and that he’s starting to get comfortable.

“There’s always pressure, but I try to focus on myself a lot and not think about it too much,” Lafreniere said. “My last game before the season was maybe 10 months ago. I had to get my game shape back and try to get a little bit of a rhythm but the last couple games I think I’m playing better and just try to focus on myself. There’s always pressure but you focus on getting better every day, I think it’s going to be good.”

The 19-year-old has skated on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich as of late. He mentioned that he believed their line is beginning to build chemistry and will only get better with time. Asked what the difference has been in his game now compared to the start of the season, Lafreniere pointed to how he’s been more active on the ice.

“Just making a lot more plays I would say, skating more with the puck,” he said. “The first couple of games I wasn’t making that much plays and I think I’m getting better right now like I said. I think [I’m] more confident with the puck on my stick and I think as an offensive player that’s what you’re looking for.”


The Rangers’ next three games will be against the only two teams who sit lower than them in the East division standings: the Sabres and Devils.

While they’ve split two games against Buffalo, including an overtime win that gave the Sabres a point, the Rangers are 0-2 against the Devils so far. Considering the Rangers have been able to pull out wins against the top of the division – the Capitals, Bruins, Islanders and Flyers – they understand they can’t play down to their competition.

“Well we are certainly in no position to look at anybody as lesser competition,” Quinn said. “Because we’re certainly a lot closer to the bottom of the division right now than we are to the top. That being said, I think we need to continue to approach every game regardless of the opponent… That’s certainly going to be a test over these next three games.”

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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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