Rangers defenseman Jeff Woywitka is “hurt,” coach John Tortorella said before Friday night’s clash against the Flyers at the Garden.
“I don’t know,” Tortorella replied. “Didn’t you ask me that last night?”
Of course. After all, he’s missed the past two games with a foot injury. Either way, the third pairing will be Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon again.
With that in mind, the rest of the lineup with remain the same -- with one change. Henrik Lundqivst (13-7-4, 2.03 goals-against average, .934 save percentage) will make his 25th start of the season. It’s up to Lundqivst to duplicate the standout performance of “backup” Martin Biron, who made 24 saves Thursday night against the Islanders to improve to 7-1-0 on the season.
The Rangers coach said the newly formed Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan line “didn’t accomplish a whole helluva lot” Thursday night, but he would not reveal if he’s going to change things up.
The other three combinations from Thursday night: Derek Stepan-Artem Anisimov-Marian Gaborik; Brandon Dubinksy-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell; Ruslan Fedetenko-Mike Rupp-Brandon Prust.
The other two pairings: Dan Girardi-Ryan McDonagh; Michael Del Zotto-Anton Strahlman.
• With the Flyers in town along with the extra HBO "24/7" cameras and all the hype surrounding the Jan. 2 Winter Classic, will Tortorella talk to his team?
“No,” he replied.
Are the Rangers approaching it just like any other game?
“Absolutely. Yes. Absolutely,” he replied.
The Rangers are two points behind the Flyers in the Atlantic Division. They’re been playing pretty darn good hockey all season.
“It really means nothing,” Tortorella said. “I think we’ve found different ways to win. The hockey team has really kept its focus. But it’s Dec. 23. We’ve gotta continue to try to get better as a hockey club.”
• Defenseman Marc Staal told reporters after the team’s morning stake that he’ll convene with doctors on Monday and see whether he can begin taking contact in practice.
• Left winger Sean Avery will be a healthy scratch for the seventh straight game.