Share with your Friends

Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:11 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Stars, Rangers to have familiar looks

NEW YORK -- The Rangers andStars will ice the same lineups Sunday they did in their previous games.

Rangers coach John Tortorella chose to bench Sean Avery in favor of Erik Christensen, and it paid off as Christensen had a power-play assist and won five of six faceoffs in 12:54 of ice time. Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal.

The Stars will counter with Richard Bachman, won enters tonight's game with 424 fewer games played than Lundqvist. The 24-year-old Bachman has played in three NHL games and won his first career start Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings. He made 26 saves to earn another start.

Here is what the Stars and Rangers lineups will look like tonight at Madison Square Garden:

Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Mike Ribeiro - Brenden Morrow
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen
Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas

Richard Bachman will start in goal, with Andrew Raycroft the backup.

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell
Brandon Dubinsky - Erik Christensen - Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Steve Eminger
Jeff Woywitka - Anton Stralman

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron the backup.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 11:56 AM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Rangers' Staal skates; Sauer won't travel

NEW YORK -- The Rangers are looking at a good news/bad news situation regarding their two concussed defensemen.

Marc Staal, out since training camp, continued to make progress in his recovery by skating with the team at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. There remains no time table for his return, but Staal is encouraged.

"I decided to jump on the ice for the morning skate for a little bit," said Staal, who continues to wear the orange jersey that indicates no contact. "I wanted to get involved a little bit. The workouts have gone well. I'm progressing pretty well. The next step was to jump on the ice with the guys. I skated just as hard on my own, but today I did some drills. It was nice."

The news is less encouraging, yet status quo for Michael Sauer. He remains day-to-day after suffering his concussion last week, but he won't travel with the team for the start of its three-game road trip that begins Thursday in St. Louis. The Rangers are in Phoenix on Saturday before playing in New Jersey on Tuesday.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
Posted On Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 5:43 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Christensen to replace Avery in Rangers' lineup

NEW YORK -- Sean Avery will not be in the lineup Sunday night as the Rangers play host to the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.

Erik Christensen, a healthy scratch since Nov. 23, will replace Avery in the lineup.

"I don't think Sean's been dead-on," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Having said that, he hasn't had a bunch of ice time. I'm just having problems finding ice for him. I have other guys that are filling the areas and doing the things that I need done. I'm a little concerned about shootouts. We've struggled a little bit there."

Avery is averaging less than 6 minutes per game in the Rangers' last four games. Christensen is one of the best in the NHL at shootouts, and the Rangers are just 1-3 this season in the breakaway contest.

Before the season, Tortorella awarded the final roster spot to Christensen and sent Avery to the AHL. The coach said he felt Avery wasn't one of the team's best forwards, but that changed at the end of October. Avery was placed on re-entry waivers and rejoined the team on Nov. 1. The Rangers are 12-2-1 since Avery rejoined the team.
Avery has 3 goals in 15 games, but has fallen out of favor yet again with Tortorella.

"Sean played some good games for us when he came up," Tortorella said. "I think it's leveled off. But I'm trying to be fair to him also. I haven't put him on the ice, and it's awful difficult to play that way. But I have other players doing the things I need done in other situations that Sean just isn't getting involved in. I want to give Erik another chance and also, the shootout."

When asked what Tortorella wants from Christensen now that he's back in the lineup, he gave the answer he always gives about the streaky 27-year-old.

"Consistency," Tortorella said. "Whenever that question's asked, that's the first word. He's done his work as far as being out of the lineup. He works hard. You can see he shows signs of his talent, his skill. But again, it's a shift here or a shift there. We're hoping that he becomes more consistent."

Christensen is expected to see more ice time than Avery has received lately and will be part of the second power-play unit. He has a goal and 3 assists in 14 games.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 1:45 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Despite losses, Boucher likes his team's play

NEW YORK -- The potential loss of Martin St. Louis for Thursday night's game against the Rangers aside, and Lightning coach Guy Boucher feels like his slumping team is turning a corner.

St. Louis took a puck in the face during Thursday's morning skate and went to the hospital for further evaluation. He will likely be out of the lineup for Thursday's game.

This comes on the heels of a 5-1 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, Tampa's fifth-straight defeat. Subtract that loss -- which came after the team got to their hotel at 4 a.m. after losing the night before -- and Boucher likes what he has seen.

"With the way we've been playing, except for last game, yes, definitely," Boucher said. "We have a team that needs to win 2-1 and 1-0 and 3-2 at best. Right now,  we're having a hard time with injuries and finding which guys are going to click. We’ve had more scoring chances in the last eight games than we had in our best games last year. Stamkos has missed seven open nets the last five games. I don't think I've ever seen him do that. But when it's going this way, it's going that way."

Defenseman Pavel Kubina and forward Nate Thompson won't be in the lineup Thursday night. With St. Louis' availability in jeopardy as well, the team will likely recall a forward. But Boucher said there's a possibility he will use seven defensemen and 11 forwards; but there were still too many unknowns when he spoke after the morning skate.

Mathieu Garon was the first goaltender off the ice and will likely start. Dwayne Roloson will serve as the backup.

Line combinations and line rushes went out the window with St. Louis' injury. Now, Boucher probably won't determine in his lineup until right before game time.
Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Puck to face keeps St. Louis from milestone

NEW YORK -- Martin St. Louis left the Madison Square Garden ice Thursday morning bleeding from his left eye area after a teammate backhanded a shot into his face during practice. He was taken to a nearby hospital for examination and will not play Thursday night against the Rangers in what was scheduled to be his 500th consecutive game.

"It's a difficult loss for the team, but you know what? It's an opportunity for guys to step up," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said this morning.

The team released a statement saying St. Louis is out indefinitely with facial and nasal fractures. He will return to Tampa to undergo further medical examination by Lightning team physicians when swelling subsides in and around his left eye.

The incident happened early in practice. St. Louis was circling behind the net when teammate Dominic Moore missed the net with a backhander and caught St. Louis near the eye. The Lightning's second-leading scorer skated to the bench and was immediately helped to the locker room by a trainer.

"It's one of those plays," a remorseful Moore said afterward.

It's a devastating blow for a team that has dropped five straight games and nine of 12 overall. The Lightning are already without defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Pavel Kubina due to injuries, but the loss of St. Louis is both crippling and unexpected. He had played in 499 consecutive games.

"It just keeps on pouring," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.

The Lightning are coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Boucher gave his team the day off Wednesday after losses on back-to-back days, but he put his players through the paces Thursday at a morning skate that was far more intense than usual.

"If you don't put in the dedication and commitment here, you're of no use to me," Boucher shouted at his players before ending the practice by telling his team, "It has to be better than this … and it will be."

The message from Boucher was emphatic, but he said it wasn't anything he doesn't say at different times during the season.

"It's because it hasn't been on the ice in front of everybody," Boucher said when a reporter asked if his demeanor had anything to do with the recent losing skid. "It's because we don't get practice time."

But Boucher admitted that the injury to St. Louis made him change his tone.

"To be honest with you, with what happened to Marty, I know what's happening," Boucher said, referring to his team sagging at the sight of one of their leaders leaving the ice with a severe injury. "It's another one, you know? And it's probably the biggest blow you can get on our team right there. I am the leader. I can't show that we're going into this battle with our heads down. It's already going to be as difficult as it can be playing a top team. If we get down on ourselves and feel sorry for ourselves, we're cooked. You have to be tough."

St. Louis has been a rock for the Lightning. He's third on a team that has trouble scoring with 9 goals. He won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in 2004 as the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup, and he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy last season.

Steven Stamkos understands what the loss of St. Louis means to a struggling team and why Boucher would amp up practice.

"When things aren't going well, you have to make sure guys are ready to compete and never quit," Stamkos said. "That was the message here. We need to do things better and get out of this little slide that we're in."

All the Lightning can do is move forward, but it doesn’t make the loss of St. Louis any easier to swallow.

"He's been playing extremely well," Yzerman said. "Bad things happen at the worst time."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 1:52 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Rangers' Sauer out with concussion

The New York Rangers have excelled this season despite the absence of top defenseman Marc Staal since training camp due to problems stemming from a concussion suffered last season. That blue line will be put to the test yet again, at least for one game.

Michael Sauer, a fixture on the Rangers' second defense pairing for the past two seasons, will not play against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday after absorbing a massive hit from Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf on Monday. Rangers coach John Tortorella said Wednesday that Sauer is considered day-to-day with a concussion.

Sauer was caught with his head down by Phaneuf late in third period. The problem was exacerbated as Sauer, who lost his helmet because of the collision, hit the back of his head against the boards as he fell to the ice.

The Rangers will use Steve Eminger along with Michael Del Zotto as their No. 2 defense pairing, with Anton Stralman and Jeff Woywitka filling out the back end.

“It’s tough,” Del Zotto told Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record. “We’re missing Marc and he’s such a key component to the team because he plays in all situations. It’s a hole in our back end and nobody’s going to replace him. Now Sauer’s gone, too. It’s an opportunity for guys to step up.”

The 24-year-old Sauer enjoyed a terrific rookie campaign in 2010-11, with 3 goals, 12 assists and a plus-20 rating in 76 games. He has been steady again this season, with a goal, 2 assists and a plus-9 in 19 games.
Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 1:04 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Maple Leafs, Rangers

NEW YORK -- With back-to-back games on the horizon for the Toronto Maple Leafs, coach Ron Wilson said he expects to use his fourth line more than usual against the Rangers on Monday night.

Backup Jonas Gustavsson, who handed the Rangers their only regulation loss at Madison Square Garden this season with a 28-save performance on Oct. 28, will start in goal. James Reimer will be in net when the Leafs host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Here's what Wilson will likely throw out onto the ice tonight:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
David Steckel - Joe Colborne - Philippe Dupuis

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer

Nothing will likely change with the Rangers, who have won five straight and 12 of 14.

Ruslan Fedotenko - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell
Sean Avery - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Michael Sauer
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 12:56 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Rangers ready to welcome HBO cameras 24/7

NEW YORK -- The camera crews for HBO's "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic" have made brief appearances during the past month, but they will become fully immersed starting Monday as the Rangers host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.

HBO's acclaimed documentary series will start compiling footage for the show's premiere, Dec. 14 at 10 p.m. ET. The cameras have been around the Rangers at times, and the players have said they'll adjust now that the cameras will be around full-time.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said he won't change anything he does and said he wants his players to enjoy the experience.

"I'm not worried about our guys," Tortorella said. "I think athletes are entertainers. I think they're going to enjoy it. But I also trust our guys that they know what we're doing here. They know what the big picture is here. I think we're letting people into our room and I think it's a good thing for the League. But it won't affect our team. I trust our players understand that.

"I want them to enjoy this. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them."

Will there be any tirades like the ones captured by HBO when Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was swearing at a record rate?

"Probably not," Tortorella said.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson was asked if he'd welcome cameras into his locker room the way the Rangers and Flyers are with HBO.

"It'd be HBO Canada, so I don't know," said Wilson, pointing out a Canadian franchise hasn't participated in a Winter Classic. "We wouldn't be involved in a situation like that because it is HBO and it's an NBC production, as well. I'd be interested to see if the CBC or TSN would be involved with something like that."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 12:42 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Leafs looking to improve against League's elite

NEW YORK -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are having a pretty good season. It could be an even better one if not for the Boston Bruins.

The Leafs are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points. But if not for four losses to the Boston Bruins, things would be looking even better in Toronto. Just a split in those games would have the Leafs in second place in the East and on the doorstep of the top spot in the League.

Finding ways to beat the NHL's top teams has been a problem for the Leafs -- of their 10 regulation losses this season, nine have come against teams with winning records. It won't get any easier Monday night when they have to face the New York Rangers, who have won 12 of 14 and boast the best winning percentage in the League.

If the beatings by the Bruins and losses to the League's top teams have had any effect on the Leafs' confidence, a win against the Rangers would give it a boost.

"It would be huge," center Tyler Bozak said. "We just have to get back to doing what we were doing on our road trip (3-1-0). It's obviously going to be a tough game in their building. They play well here and are on a little bit of a streak, so we're going to have to come and give it our all tonight to have a chance."

The Rangers are 7-1-1 at Madison Square Garden, but that regulation loss came to the Leafs on Oct. 27. The Rangers have caught fire since then, but that early-season win has the Leafs confident they can do it again.

"We beat them here already, so it's not like we feel we can't beat the Rangers," winger Joffrey Lupul said. "Right now, it's just two points for us for a team it looks like we'll be battling all year. As far as confidence goes, we're confident. It's not like we're coming in here thinking we can't beat these guys. We know we can."

The Leafs will attempt to use the same recipe they did in October -- get traffic in front of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and use their own Swedish goaltender, Jonas Gustavsson, who made 28 saves in the 4-2 victory.

"It's always fun to compete against the best, whether it's a goalie or a defenseman or forward," Gustavsson said of facing Lundqvist. "In the end, it's just the same thing. You don't focus on what he's doing. You try to stop as many shots as you can.

"I see every game as a new game. I don't like to look in the past. We know it's going to be a really tough challenge tonight. They have a good team and are playing well. But I'm sure we can match them. When we're playing good, we're a really tough team to beat. Hopefully we're going to show that tonight."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Posted On Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 12:56 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Letang possible for Pens tonight

NEW YORK -- Kris Letang returned from a vicious hit from Montreal's Max Pacioretty on Saturday to score the game-winning goal in overtime, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was non-committal on his defenseman's status for tonight's game against the Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2).

Letang skated at Madison Square Garden this morning and said he would speak to doctors this afternoon about his broken nose. The Penguins only have six defensemen in town right now, so if they wanted to replace Letang, they'd need to recall one from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL before the game.

Bylsma said Marc-Andre Fleury would make the start in net. Assuming Letang plays, here is what the Penguins' lineup will look like against the Rangers:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal, with Brent Johnson the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

First | Prev | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30-31 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
World Cup of Hockey 2016