The Rangers will complete their daunting stretch of five games in seven days when they host the Panthers tonight at the Garden. Tonight will be the final game before the All-Star Break for the Blue Shirts, who are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
GIRARDI OUT: Defenseman Dan Girardi will miss his second straight game with a pulled rib muscle he suffered Saturday against Atlanta. Head coach John Tortorella said Girardi will be ready after the break.
ON THE ATTACK: Tortorella admitted the Rangers have been much more aggressive in trying to score a goal this season in overtime compared to last season. He said the team tries to forecheck more and tries to spend more time up the ice. The Rangers have played 10 overtime games this season, going 8-2 in those games.
SURVIVORS: It seems almost every week the Rangers lose a key player to an injury, yet New York has been able to stay afloat. Even without the services of Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Alex Frolov, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko and Girardi for the previous contest, the Rangers continue to rack up points. In their last two wins, the Rangers even managed to comeback from third period deficits.
“After last year, throughout the summer, in communications and camp started, we tried to create an identity in how we were going to play,” Tortorella said. “I think they have done that. I think they’ve had some success through some adversity, through injuries, of being down in the period and I think they are confident.”
LETS HEAR IT FOR THE CALLUPS: With the rash of injuries, the Rangers have had to rely on callups from AHL Connecticut and Tortorella commended them on their play. Players like Mats Zuccarello, Chad Kolarik, Kris Newbury and Brodie Dupont have all been called up and contributed minutes.
“I think the guys that have come up from our minor league team have done the job and I think it starts with the program down there,” Tortorella said. “I think they’re very well coached I think they are very well-conditioned and I always say that because I think they step right in here and are maybe able to play at a little bit higher level as far as speed. Through all the injuries we’ve had, this is going to help the organization in the long term.”
HOLD YOUR BREATH: Most of the Rangers will start their six-day break for the All-Star Break following the game. Tortorella hopes the team can keep its foot to pedal for one more game.
“I just don’t want us to exhale here,” Tortorella said.
GOING BACK DOWN: With the All-Star Break looming, Tortorella said some players will be sent down to Connecticut to play during the break.
HANK'S BACK: Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal tonight.
THE REINFORCEMENTS: Callahan is on track to return for the Rangers first game after the break against the Penguins on Feb. 1, Tortorella said. He is the closets to returning to action of all the injured Rangers.