Talbot Makes Home Debut Amidst Lineup Changes
As best he could, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is shaking up the lineup this afternoon when the Blueshirts host the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden. Cam Talbot will make his seventh start of the season in goal, his first on home ice, while Michael Del Zotto replaces John Moore on defense and Derek Dorsett returns from a two-game injury absence to take Taylor Pyatt's spot in the lineup.
Vigneault told reporters that it had long been the plan to start Talbot at some point this weekend with the Rangers playing nine games in 15 days. Since Henrik Lundqvist was between the pipes for Friday's 3-2 loss in Boston, Talbot gets the start in Saturday's matinee.
Talbot has been terrific in the role of Lundqvist's back up, posting a 5-1-0 record, 1.41 goals against average and .944 save percentage in seven appearances (six starts) since being recalled from Hartford. He has posted shutouts in each of his last two starts---November 16th up in Montreal and November 23rd in Nashville---and had his shutout streak of 165 minutes 27 minutes snapped in relief of Lundqvist on a late third period goal Monday night in Tampa.
Del Zotto had been scratched the previous two games, and has been a healthy scratch in five of the last eight contests, while Moore will sit out his first game of the season this afternoon. Moore, who scored the game-winning goal in Dallas to start the just-completed five-game road trip on November 21st, has two goals, three assists, and five points to go along with 10 penalty minutes and a minus-three plus/minus mark in 26 games this season.
Justin Falk, who had taken Del Zotto's spot in the lineup will play again Saturday after playing a physical 13-plus minutes Friday in Boston.
The Rangers missed Dorsett's grit and energy against the Bruins, and he will return Saturday after nursing a wrist injury the previous two games. He suffered the injury late in the third period of Monday's 5-0 loss in Tampa.
COACHES GRAB SPOTLIGHTS
Both Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella met with reporters a couple of hours before Saturday's game---the first regular season contest between the Rangers and Canucks since the two clubs hired one another's recently-fired coaches this past summer. The contest also marks Tortorella's first return to The Garden since being relieved of his duties as Rangers head coach.
Vigneault joked about the attention being given to this particular game, and emplhasized in more serious tones that both teams are solely focused on earning an important two points.
"We came up the ramp together (at The Garden) this morning," joked Vigneault. "No one beat one another, and we got up here at the same time! John I'm sure loved his time in New York, and I loved my time in Vancouver, but I think we are both trying to do teh same thing, get our teams to win."
Tortorella admitted before the game that "it's weird" to come back to The Garden as a visitor, but "the over-riding emotion is trying to get the Canucks to win". He added that he had not spoken with any of his former players and did not expect to before leaving the arena following the game.
"I'm going to coach this game, hopefully kick their (butt), and get out of here," Tortorella said with a slight smirk.