When: Thursday, December 8, 7:00 p.m.
Opponent: vs. Tampa Bay (11-14-2)
UPDATE: Martin St. Louis took a puck to the face this morning and isn't likely to play tonight. (1:05 p.m.)
UPDATE: Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers. (11:15 a.m.)
EARLIER: The Rangers were dealt a crushing blow on Monday when Dion
Phaneuf rocked Michael Sauer with a huge hit that concussed New York’s third
defenseman in the closing minutes of the team’s first home loss since October
Sauer is considered “day-to-day,” but his family
has a history with concussions and if Marc Staal has taught us anything,
it’s that there’s no such thing as a timetable when it comes to recovering from
In Sauer’s stead, Anton Stralman will play
is second game for the Rangers - his first since November 23rd.
Stralman will be paired with Jeff Woywitka while Steve Eminger returns to his old spot alongside Michael Del Zotto, who is OK after
suffering an equally awful looking hit at the conclusion of Monday’s game.
Tampa Bay has lost five games in a row, but given New York’s
defensive situation it can’t be a comforting thought that Martin St. Louis,
Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier are members of the Rangers’ next
Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh have ceded a bit more ice-time
to Del Zotto and Sauer lately, but they may both end up with season-highs in
minutes on Thursday night.
This also could be a game in which the Rangers need Henrik
Lundqvist to deliver one of his vintage performances as the team tries to adapt
to another blow to its shorthanded defense.
Unlike in the past, however, New York has the firepower to
win even if Tampa Bay’s stars are able to take advantage of the Rangers’
The Blueshirts have scored four or more goals in four of
their last six games and have begun to display the makings of an explosive
The G.A.S. line is again flying with a combined five goals
and six assists in its last three games and Brad Richards has led the second
trio with four goals and six assists in his last six games. New York has also received strong
supplemental offense from the third line of Carl Hagelin/Brian Boyle/John
Mitchell over the last two weeks and has scored power play goals in four of its
last five games.
The Blueshirts struggled to contend with Toronto’s speed on
Monday, but previously they had won five straight concluding with a three-goal
third period that capped a come from
behind victory against Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The Lightning has received atrocious play from goalies
Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon this season and may be forced to pull the
trigger on a trade if the Rangers expose them again.
The sense of panic over Sauer’s injury is palpable, but the
Rangers have still won 12 of their last 15 games and their balanced attack
could be enough to carry them despite being shorthanded defensively.
- Mike Rupp participated
in a full practice on Wednesday morning with the Blueshirts, but was still
wearing a non-contact jersey. Rupp says
far from battles” and could be nearing his return.
- Andrew Gross reports that the Rangers have instructed
their players not to comment on the New
York Times’ story on Derek Boogaard.
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