At a glance: After dropping a tough 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Sidney Crosby’s second comeback Thursday, the Rangers hope to rebound against Colorado in the fourth of a seven-game homestand at Madison Square Garden. With a 5-2 defeat of the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon, the Pens recorded their 11th straight win to pull within two points of the Eastern Conference-leading Blueshirts. If the Rangers want to retain their four-point lead in the standings, they’ll have to top the Avalanche.
Captain’s back: After missing the last three games, six of the last nine, Ryan Callahan returns to the lineup Saturday. The 26-year-old Rangers captain has been battling a bruised right foot sustained in a game against the Devils February 27, but hopes to inject some life into a one-dimensional Rangers offense that desperately needs some secondary scoring. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto is also back after battling a nagging hip injury in recent weeks.
Lundqvist returns: Sidelined for two straight games with the flu, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for New York Saturday. Despite being the ironclad MVP for his first-place Rangers squad this season, Lundqvist’s play has dipped of late. He has surrendered three or more goals in each of his last five starts and Martin Biron hasn’t fared much better. The 34-year-old backup netminder has given up ten goals in his last three starts.
Secondary scoring: The recently-formed first line of Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik has been outstanding, combining for 15 points over the last two games, but the Rangers need help elsewhere. Callahan’s return should help – the sparkplug winger has 26 goals and 48 points this season – but the Rangers need their other lines to step up as well.
Erixon recalled: Bruised and battered on the back end, 21-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon was recalled by the Rangers Saturday morning. The top prospect has three goals, 30 assists and a plus-4 rating in 43 games for the Connecticut Whale (AHL) this season. Should he play Saturday, it will be his 14th game for the big club this season.
Rookie respect: The Rangers have discovered a gem in Hagelin, but Colorado boasts an impressive Swedish rookie of their own in 19-year-old winger Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog, drafted by C0lorado second overall this past June, is putting together a Calder-caliber year with 20 goals, 26 assists and a plus-19 rating in 73 games for the Avalanche this season.