RANGERS (21-11-4) at DUCKS (26-9-6)
TV: NBCSN, MSG+
ANAHEIM -- Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will make his second start for the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday against the New York Rangers at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
Bryzgalov has needed practice to get up to speed since he signed as a free agent Dec. 9. He has made two appearances since he signed with the Ducks: in relief against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 16, and a 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Dec.19 in his only start.
“We used that time to get myself [ready] as much as possible and good physical shape,” Bryzgalov said.
"The game is a little bit different because it’s a different pace.”
Bryzgalov hadn’t done any hockey activity in the month leading up to his signing. He said he’s much more comfortable, physically and mentally, after the past few weeks.
“I didn’t have much time to practice before I played the first game,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it. You feel … different inside. You feel more calm. When you work and work hard, with every save, you put in the bank 25 cents and think ‘OK, I feel better.’ Even in practice, you get more confidence.”
Bryzgalov said he wants to get his first win with Anaheim out of the way. His last NHL win was April 8, 2014, when he was with the Minnesota Wild.
“Obviously, I want to be part of this success,” Bryzgalov said. “I want to win the games for the team. I want to give them a chance to win the games and help them to finish the season and win the [Stanley] Cup.”
Anaheim No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen has started 26 of the past 27 games, and coach Bruce Boudreau said the time was right for Bryzgalov after he saw the right movement in the net and tracking of the puck in practice. Boudreau consulted with Ducks goalie coach Dwayne Roloson.
“We thought after the game the other night that it was time,” Boudreau said. “We let him know, and he had, again, a good practice yesterday. What better way to test than against the best? That’s who we’re playing.”
Bryzgalov’s game figures to be watched closely because former backup goalie John Gibson has recovered well from a groin injury playing for the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League, according to Boudreau.
“I don’t think there’s a game that he has played that he hasn’t either stole the show or been the difference,” Boudreau said of Gibson. “He’s right on track of being the goalie everybody thinks he’s going to be.”
Bryzgalov and the Ducks will have their hands full with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has won nine of his past 10 starts.
“You’ve just got to keep pounding away at him, and hopefully you get three [goals] by him, because he doesn’t usually give up three, unless it’s October,” Boudreau said. “Getting three by him now is a tough deal, and if you can do that and play good defense, hopefully you can hold on to win.”
The Rangers did not skate; they have been off since Saturday. The Rangers have won 10 of their past 11 games and open a three-game, four-day California trip. New York is 4-1-1 against the Pacific Division.
Here are the projected lineups:
Rick Nash – Derick Brassard – Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin – Kevin Hayes – Jesper Fast
J.T. Miller – Dominic Moore – Lee Stempniak
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Marc Staal – Dan Boyle
John Moore – Kevin Klein
Scratched: Matt Hunwick, Tanner Glass
Rene Bourque – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Kesler – Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano – Nate Thompson – Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Maroon – Rickard Rakell – Devante Smith-Pelly
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Clayton Stoner – Sami Vatanen
Injured: Eric Brewer (foot)
Scratched: Colby Robak, Mark Fistric, Tim Jackman
Status report: Moore reportedly will go in the lineup in place of Hunwick. … Boudreau said he liked what he saw from Bourque on the top line after Bourque was scratched the previous two games. Thompson and Rakell switched center spots on the third and fourth lines in line rushes. Smith-Pelly will go back in after he was a healthy scratch. He has not scored since Dec. 1.
Who’s hot: Stepan has 11 points in his past eight games. McDonagh is on a three-game point streak. … Getzlaf has points in 10 of his past 11 games. Beleskey is two points short of matching his career-high 24 points.