The Rangers meet the division rival Flyers in a nationally televised game Wednesday evening at MSG. New York limps into the contest, nursing their wounds from a 5-1 pasting at the hands of the Lightning on Monday and are 3-3-4 in their last 10. Philly enters the game off a pair of losses while going 6-4 in their last 10, but the team may be without Claude Giroux, who is nursing an ankle injury.
As of 5PM, Giroux was seen wearing a walking boot but is officially a game-time decision. In terms of streaks, Philly has not won in their last eight games at the Garden – yes I know, kiss of death and maloik, but by saying it that way, I am reversing the curse so the streak gets extended. Additionally, the two teams will get very acquainted with one another, as this is the first of three match ups in the next 10 days.
The Rangers as a team and individually said all the right things after Monday’s loss. How they have to better. How there needs to be more accountability and commitment. If they were being evaluated on the Crash Davis/Nuke Laloosh scale of quotes, they would get 100%. Unfortunately, those have no impact on the bottom line result. Take what you said, incorporate them into your play and show me on the ice. Prove to me that what you all said is not just lip-service, but converted into tangible actions. We are in the Missouri state logo model: Show Me. Don’t tell me what you will do, show me, only then will I believe what you said has any real effect.
The Rangers did get some good news this morning, as Ryan McDonagh spent 25 minutes in the ice this AM, wristing shots while working on his stickhandling and skating. Condition-wise, he hopefully has been and will skate daily, so that his legs and wind are ready to go when he gets clearance. Because the injury is the second in a relatively short span of games, even though it was broken up by the offseason, the team must be careful with his return to avoid a repeat of what happened on November 8. McDonagh has missed nine games, during which the Rangers have allowed 28 goals while going 2-4-3. The hope is that McDonagh will be ready to play in about two weeks, meaning he will miss five more games. Of course, that presumes a steady progression from practicing in a non-contact jersey to getting cleared for contact and game action with no setbacks. But today was a good first step back.
New York is going back to the future, wearing their whites at MSG tonight. The Broadway Blueshirts is a play on the jersey they wear at home, but they are hearkening back to the 80s/90s etc. by wearing white. It’s more a way to hopefully have a change of luck and fortune rather than a return to days gone by, but if it works, stick with it.
The lineup tonight will have some tweaks. Mats Zuccarello will play on a line with Rick Nash and Derick Brassard as coach Alain Vigneault attempts to get consistent production from the rest of the roster. As such, Martin St. Louis slides down to play with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, and maybe that change will get Kreider, who has generated some chances but has been unable to convert lately, going. Lee Stempniak will miss the game with lower-back stiffness, replaced by Jesper Fast, who was scratched recently to allow Anthony Duclair back in the lineup. With McDonagh still out, the blue line remains the same. In goal, oddly enough Cam Talbot rather than Henrik Lundqvist gets the nod. I think we all expected Hank tonight, Talbot on Friday against Buffalo and Hank on Sunday versus Montreal, but that obviously will not be the case. Of course, given the snowstorm in Buffalo, who knows what will happen Friday and no explanation has been provided by AV for the change. Forwards:
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan- Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Anthony Duclair
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast Defensemen (projected pairs):
Marc Staal-Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick-Dan Boyle
John Moore-Kevin Klein Starting goalie:
Cam Talbot (Henrik Lundqvist backup)
The Flyers as mentioned above may be without Giroux and still are missing Michael Raffl (out about another five weeks), Andrew McDonald and Luke Schenn. Michael Del Zotto faces his former squad tonight and it will be interesting to see the reaction of the Garden faithful to someone many viewed as Del Zaster. MDZ has played fairly well for Philly, stabilizing a blue line that is missing two of their top four d-men. The lineup below is without Giroux, but if he does play, he will be on the first line, shift Schenn and Couturier each down a line with either Laughton or VandeVelde scratched. Forwards:
R.J. Umberger-Brayden Schenn-Jake Voracek
Wayne Simmonds-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Scott Laughton-Vincent Lecavalier
Zac Rinaldo-Chris VandeVelde-Jason Akeson Defensemen:
Nicklas Grossman-Mark Streit
Michael Del Zotto-Nick Schultz
Carlo Colaiacovo-Braydon Coburn Starting goalie:
Steve Mason (Ray Emery backup)