At a glance: The Rangers returned to action with a big win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. Now they travel to Philadelphia aiming to put even more distance between themselves and their bitter Broad Street rivals in the Metropolitan Division. Meanwhile, the Flyers, who trail the Blueshirts by three points in the standings, suffered a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Here to stay: With two huge questions hanging over them heading into the final week before the NHL’s March 5 trade deadline, the Rangers answered one Friday afternoon, locking up 29-year-old defenseman Dan Girardi to a six-year, $33 million deal. With Girardi’s deal done, attention now shifts to the protracted contract negotiations with captain Ryan Callahan. The 28-year-old winger, a pending unrestricted free agent, has yet to sign an extension with the club, making it appear increasingly likely that he could be traded by Wednesday. The two sides continue to talk, but little progress has been made towards keeping him on Broadway.
Return to action: After a stellar performance on Thursday from backup netminder Cam Talbot, who held the Hawks’ league-leading offense scoreless for over 59 minutes only to have his shutout spoiled with 11.6 seconds remaining in regulation, starter Henrik Lundqvist returns to the net Saturday for the first game of the Rangers’ back-to-back set this weekend. Lundqvist got plenty of work during the Olympic break, however, leading an injury-ravaged Swedish team to the gold-medal game against Canada. Though Lundqvist and his Swedish ‘mates had to settle for silver in Sochi, Lundqvist was named to the all-tournament team. He is expected to face Steve Mason on Saturday.
Long time coming: Derek Dorsett will make his return to action against a chippy Flyers squad as Alain Vigneault told reporters Saturday morning that the gritty winger, who hasn’t played in almost two months after suffering a broken leg back in January, will replace Dominic Moore in the lineup.