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At the Rink blog

Tortorella expects strong start from Rangers

Monday, 12.26.2011 / 12:12 PM

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Tortorella expects strong start from Rangers
NEW YORK -- The holiday break couldn't have come at a worse time for the Rangers, who won their fourth straight game Friday. The 4-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers moved the Rangers into first place in the Atlantic Division and second place in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers will get back at it Monday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Islanders, who the Rangers beat 4-2 on Thursday.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said it doesn't matter if his team is playing on two days rest, five days rest or against a division rival. The short layoff can't be an excuse for having a slow start Monday night.

"Doesn't matter," Tortorella said. "Everybody has a break for two days. You can't take a period to get ready. If it takes a period to get ready, then we're up against it. I believe both teams will be ready to play. It doesn't matter who we're playing or who they're playing, everybody went through the same thing. It's about getting back to playing the game."

In the Rangers' win against the Flyers, Tortorella used four defensemen across his two power-play units. There have been times when forwards Brad Richards or Derek Stepan manned the point, but Tortorella said he'd prefer to keep his top forward lines (Brandon Dubinsky-Richards-Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov-Stepan-Marian Gaborik) together with the man-advantage.

The Islanders had their morning skate on Long Island. The Rangers had theirs at MSG. Henrik Lundqvist will start, and this is how the lines will likely look later in the day:

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

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Tim Erixon - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron
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— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie