Rangers v. Penguins
Madison Square Garden, 7 pm.
Rangers Record: 13 - 12 - 1
Pittsburgh Record: 18 - 9 - 0
The Rangers are looking for a spark. A game to turn around the recent rut that they're mired in. What better game than tonight against a divisional rival who embarassed you 8 - 3 this weekend?
It will be easier said than done, but the Rangers are faced with as close to a must-win game as you can get 20+ games into the season.
One small token for the Rangers troubles is that Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke, who blindsided Artem Anisimov, is suspended for two games beginning with tonight. That sacrifices a little grit for the Penguins and may give the Rangers fourth line an opportunity to muck it up.
Enver Lisin, who rode the bench the entire game against the Penguins, will be a healthy scratch while Brian Boyle is back in the lineup and will most likely be paired with Aaron Voros and Donald Brashear.
That unit could see some greater ice time tonight.
But physical play is only part of the way to solving Pittsburgh. There are those other cast of characters, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It will be another test for Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal to match them offensively, but in reality the key to the game will be better overall defensive play.
With Wade Redden still out, Michal Rozsival has to build off his decent last game and lead the young group. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, who were predominantly paired against the top Pittsburgh line, will need to tighten up their positioning and physical play on the high powered Penguin offense.
Mike Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy should be thinking defense first and not risk the oddman rushes again, especially considering that both were beat on several occasions during the Rangers recent road trip.
And former first round pick Bobby Sanguinetti finally makes his Madison Square Garden debut tonight. The Rangers coaching staff has been cautious of Sanguinetti's ice-time, playing him around 10:00+ minutes in each of his first two games.
Expect him to see a few more minutes tonight as the defense has to be worn after all the travel and heavy minutes.
Most importantly, the King is back. Henrik Lundqvist, who had a poor showing in Tampa Bay, returns to the nets tonight. The Rangers need a major effort from him in order to be successful tonight.
So stay tuned with us tonight as we host an exclusive Live Game Thread for Blueshirt Bulletin Subscribers! Catch all the latest observations, news, and thoughts straight from the Garden.
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