With the New York Rangers losing defenseman John Moore, who will begin serving his two-game suspension for his hit on Dale Weise in Game 5, their defensive depth will be put to the test. Though not confirmed by head coach Alain Vigneault in his post-practice news conference Thursday,
The right-handed defenseman took some reps in the morning skate with Kevin Klein, playing on the left side. Though it is his weak side, Diaz has played there before. In the pregame rushes he was still paired with Klein on the Rangers' third unit.
Vigneault said that Justin Falk was also available for the Rangers, leaving a final decision until game time.
Diaz, the former Montreal Canadiens blueliner, draws into the lineup for just the third time this postseason.
"He's a good defenseman in the sense that he's not overly physical, but he's got good instincts, he moves the puck well, he can help us on the power play," Vigneault said as he addressed the media ahead of Game 6. "He's going to be all right. I mean, every time we've used him this year, he's been good for us."
Diaz started the season with the Habs, posting 11 assists in 46 games before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Weise. He was then flipped at the deadline to the Rangers in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
The 28-year-old Swiss bluliner appeared in 11 regular-season contests with New York, registering a goal and an assist. He also played in two games of the Rangers' series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, averaging 18:07 between the two games, posting six shots on goal and a minus-1 rating.
This is the kind of situation Diaz was acquired for, to provide depth and serviceable defense when called upon. He's more than capable of hopping into the series and very well could have a little added jump against the team that traded him away.
The guy the Habs traded Diaz for, however, is unlikely to play in the game as Weise missed the Habs' morning skate and is expected to be replaced by Brandon Prust for Game 6.
Over his brief career, Diaz has appeared in seven total games in the Stanley Cup playoffs and has yet to register a point.