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Gaborik, Del Zotto to miss game vs. Sens

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Game Preview

Game Notes

By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

As the Rangers prepared to face the Senators at 7:30 p.m. tonight, there was plenty of news at the team’s morning skate at Scotiabank Place.

Marian Gaborik, left, won't be in uniform for the Rangers tonight after playing for Slovakia at the Olympics. Olli Jokinen will be in action, even though his daughter won't let him have his bronze medal back just yet.
Rangers scoring leader Marian Gaborik and rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who both missed the final pre-Olympic game due to injuries, will not be in the lineup again this evening. Gaborik, who did not take part in the morning skate, is out with a lower-body injury, and Del Zotto is not yet ready to return to the lineup following the 50-stitch he suffered on his torso courtesy of Evgeni Malkin’s skate on Feb. 12 in Pittsburgh.

Gaborik spoke to reporters today, but he did not go into any details about the injury keeping him out of action tonight. Prior to the Olympics, he had suffered a knee laceration when cut by Henrik Lundqvist’s skate during a Feb. 9 Rangers practice, but he managed to play in all of Slovakia’s seven games in Vancouver.

“I don’t think that I’m at the point where I can come in and really help the team out there,” Gaborik said in the visitors’ dressing room this morning. “It’s a day-to-day thing, so hopefully I feel better every day this week. It’s frustrating, but I just have to stick to thinking positive.”

Del Zotto, who had his stitches removed Sunday morning, skated with his teammates for a third straight day at today’s morning skate. However, his conditioning is not at the level required for an important NHL game. Del Zotto had been off skates for 15 days before taking part in practice on Sunday.

Long after his teammates had headed back to the hotel early this afternoon, Del Zotto was still on the Scotiabank Place ice, skating hard and performing drills to get himself back into playing shape.

“This is all about conditioning and not having been on skates for so long,” said Del Zotto after his exhausting workout. “It has nothing to do with the cut or anything like that.”

Like Gaborik, Del Zotto’s status is listed as “day-to-day”.

Del Zotto will be replaced in the lineup by Corey Potter, who was recalled from Hartford on Monday. The morning-skate line combinations had Ryan Callahan taking Gaborik’s spot on the top line alongside Vinny Prospal and Erik Christensen.

Medal Winners Return … Without Their Medals:

Chris Drury, Olli Jokinen, and Callahan all drew a crowd of reporters after the morning skate. All three rejoined the club yesterday, flying from Vancouver to Ottawa, after medaling for their respective countries in the Winter Olympics.

Drury and Callahan helped the United States capture a silver medal, while Jokinen’s two third-period goals on Saturday lifted Finland to the bronze.

The funny thing is none of the three actually had their medals with them. Drury’s family took his silver back to New York from Vancouver, and Callahan’s fiancée did likewise. Perhaps the best story, though, was from Jokinen who said that his eldest daughter snatched his medal on Saturday night and has yet to return it!

“My oldest daughter kind of took over after I gave it to her after the game,” said Jokinen with a laugh. “I haven’t really seen it since. She was a big celebrity at the airport on Sunday!”

Jokinen also expressed great pride in the fact that Finland medaled yet again in this year’s Olympics.

“It was a great moment for us as a team,” said Jokinen. “For a lot of us, that’s the last time we will put that jersey on. For probably half of us, it was our last game, so it makes it so special to finish on a good note. It was a big win for our country and a good way to end that journey.”

Callahan and Drury also shared their thoughts about the great run put together by the United States and its epic gold-medal game against Canada on Sunday.

“I was proud to be a part of what we accomplished,” said Callahan. “Unfortunately we came up short there at the end, but I think looking back now you have to be pretty happy with a silver medal, a goal away from a gold. I am proud to say that I was a part of that team.”

Callahan also emphasized that playing in such a pressure-filled game, as was the case Sunday, will benefit him moving forward when he takes part in important playoff games with the Rangers.

Trade Deadline Approaches

Rangers head coach John Tortorella, who also returned to the club on Monday after serving as an assistant for Team USA, fielded several questions after the morning skate about Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. In short, Tortorella said that he could not speak on Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather’s behalf, but felt that all teams, and not just the Rangers, will look to upgrade their roster by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

“All organizations are trying to improve their hockey club,” said Tortorella. “We’ve got a good core here, a good young core. So when we try and improve I hope we don’t get too involved in that. But no matter where your team is, good, bad, or ugly, you still try and improve it during these types of situations.”

Happy Birthday, Henrik

No birthday cake nor rousing renditions of  “Happy Birthday!” for Henrik Lundqvist this morning, just the regular game-day routine as Lundqvist gets set to start tonight against the Sens on his 28th birthday.

Lundqvist, who has won three of his last four starts overall, has posted a career goals-against average of 2.03 and a save percentage of .933 in 18 appearances against Ottawa.
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