|ATL||1||3||1||(0 - 0)||5|
|NYR||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
• Game Notes
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Back at Madison Square Garden for the first time in 11 days, the Rangers host the Atlanta Thrashers this evening looking to build on their impressive 6-2-0 home-ice record this season.
In order to secure a win tonight and continue their strong run at The Garden, the Rangers will need a complete team effort, what with captain Chris Drury sidelined by a concussion and key centerman Brandon Dubinsky shelved by a broken right hand.
“Every team goes through some injuries,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said after practice on Wednesday. “We have enough bodies here, and you just try and find a way. We certainly shouldn’t be in any type of mindset of excuses.”
Drury suffered his concussion last Saturday when blindsided by Calgary’s Curtis Glencross, who was suspended three games by the league for the violent hit. Although Drury was feeling better on Monday and Tuesday, Tortorella sent him home on Wednesday because “he was not having a good day.”
The club’s plan is to let Drury rest at home and “keep him away from the rink”, in the coach’s words. Tortorella said that he does not expect Drury to be able to play on Saturday afternoon in Ottawa either.
“Having Dru out, he will be missed,” said center Artem Anisimov, who has the chance to earn more playing time with two other centers out of the lineup. “He’s a key guy on the team. But this is a chance for me, too.”
Sporting a cast on his broken hand, Dubinsky attended practice on Wednesday, although he was unable to participate. The 23-year-old Dubinsky did say that he will be able to work out off the ice to keep his leg and stomach muscles in shape while his hand heals over the next several weeks.
“It’s not so bad, and hopefully it will heal quicker than we expect and I can be back soon,” said Dubinsky.
Two top centers, key penalty killers and team leaders are out, but Tortorella thinks his team will respond in positive fashion.
His players agree.
“You can control only a certain amount of things, like how hard you work and how you execute the game plan,” said another of the team’s centers, Brian Boyle. “You can dictate the way you play by taking care of the puck and just trying to outwork the other team. That’s something, no matter who’s in the lineup, guys can do that.”
Tortorella is hopeful that Henrik Lundqvist will be back between the pipes tonight. Lundqvist sat out the last two games of the Western Canada trip with a minor, though nagging, injury. It has been nine days since Lundqvist last played in the 3-1 loss in Vancouver on Nov. 3.
Lundqvist participated in practice both on Monday and Wednesday and said he plans to play this evening. Tortorella said that he would wait until this morning before deciding if his No. 1 goalie was fit to play.
Enver Lisin, who has been hobbled by a sore foot after blocking a shot against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 1, also practiced on Wednesday and should play this evening. Lisin skated on a line with Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal at practice, with Prospal set to serve the role as the team’s No.1 center, shifting from left wing to the middle to fill the void left by injury.
“It’s no big deal for me,” said Prospal. “Basically the only difference is taking the faceoff. Once the play starts I could end up on the wing or leading the forecheck. It’s not that big of a difference what position I play.”
Tonight, the Rangers will be playing a Thrashers team that has held its own since its star and captain Ilya Kovalchuk injured his foot a couple of weeks ago. In six games without Kovalchuk -- who might be able to return this weekend -- the Thrashers are 3-3-0, and they are coming off a solid 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
Overall Atlanta is 7-6-1, good for 15 points. Other than surviving so far with Kovalchuk, the Thrashers have played the entire season without their No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen, whose back surgery will keep him out of the lineup another two months.
Nik Antropov, a Ranger briefly last year after being acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline, returns to face the Blueshirts for the first time since leaving New York as a free agent this summer. He is second in scoring on the Thrashers with 13 points, though he has yet to score a goal this season. Antropov trails only Rich Peverley (7-10-17) in scoring for Atlanta.
The Rangers dropped two of three games on their recent road trip, but played very well in the last two games in Edmonton and Calgary. Tortorella is hopeful that the team continues its upswing this evening.
“I think as we’ve gone on here, and we haven’t won ‘em all, we’ve gotten better the last three or four games,” said the head coach. “In Calgary, I thought we were improved in some areas and really good in other areas.”
Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers are right back out on the road. They will skate in Ottawa against the Senators for a Saturday afternoon matinee.
|Mar 12 '10||NYR 5 at ATL 2||V. Prospal|
|Jan 07 '10||NYR 1 at ATL 2 - SO||B. Little|
|Dec 14 '09||ATL 3 at NYR 2 - SO||I. Kovalchuk|
|Nov 12 '09||ATL 5 at NYR 3||E. Kane|
|M. Del Zotto||19||4||11||15||-1||14||3||1|