• Game Notes
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
ATLANTA -- Rangers head coach John Tortorella announced after this morning’s optional skate that Enver Lisin will return to the lineup for tonight’s important game here at Phillips Arena against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Lisin will replace Sean Avery
in the Blueshirts lineup.
|Atlanta has been good to Enver Lisin. In his last game there, Lisin scored the Blueshirts' lone goal in a 2-1 overtime shootout loss to the Thrashers. |
“Lisin had played a couple good games (at the time) I took him out,” said Tortorella. “But (Lisin) was the guy I had to take out. He didn’t really deserve to be out of the lineup at that time, it was the dynamics of the lineup after we put Jody Shelley in.”
Lisin had been a healthy scratch in each of the last three games, and in five of the previous seven. He played two strong games out of the Olympic break, picking up an assist in Ottawa on March 2, but was scratched when Marian Gaborik
returned to the lineup.
“When I wasn’t playing I worked hard to stay in shape because I knew I would get this chance, and now (tonight) I am going to play as hard as I can,” said Lisin, who has six goals, eight assists, and 14 points in 54 games so far this season. “I will keep it simple, but try to play my game, too. I will use my speed, just show my best to help the team.”
As for Avery, who will not play tonight along with Aaron Voros, Tortorella emphasized that the coaching staff is trying to put the best combination of 20 players on the ice every night in order to secure the valuable two points up for grabs in the extremely tight Eastern Conference. Tonight, Tortorella believes that the club is best served with Lisin in the lineup and Avery not in the lineup.
“We’ve asked (Avery) for a while now for more engagement, and honestly we just haven’t seen it,” said the head coach.
For his part, Avery, the last player off the ice at this morning’s skate, said that he respects the coach’s decision and will work on being more engaged when he plays again.Erik Back in Atlanta
Tortorella had high praise for Erik Christensen, the former Thrasher, this morning.
Saying that Christensen “has been playing really hard” and that “he has really strived to improve” his all-around game, Tortorella emphasized how far the 26 year-old forward has come since the Rangers claimed him off waivers from Anaheim back in December.
“He’s a very skilled guy, good skater, great shot,” Tortorella said of Christensen. “It’s just consistently doing it. That’s the book on Erik. We know that and he knows that.”
Christensen scored a highlight-reel goal against the Devils during Wednesday’s 6-3 loss and has three goals, three assists, and six points in his last six games.
As for returning to Atlanta where he played parts of two seasons after being traded by the Penguins to the Thrashers in the Marian Hossa deal during the 2007-08 season, Christensen emphasized that it’s “no big deal”.
“Going back to Pittsburgh is always more special because that was my first team, the team that drafted me,” said Christensen. “I have been back to Atlanta once already this year so it’s really not a big deal.”
Christensen played in 57 games with the Thrashers, recording 23 points (7-16-23), before moving on to Anaheim last season.
Tonight, Christensen is slated to skate with Chris Drury and either Lisin or Brandon Prust
The other Rangers’ line combinations, according to Tortorella, will be: Vinny Prospal and Olli Jokinen with Marian Gaborik
, Brandon Dubinsky
and Artem Anisimov
with Ryan Callahan
, and Jody Shelley and Brian Boyle
with either Lisin or Prust.
Auld's 'Really Cool" New Mask
It didn’t take Alex Auld long to endear himself to Rangers’ fans. Auld, who was claimed off re-entry waivers during the Olympic break, debuted his new goalie mask during Wednesday’s contest in Newark, and it featured a nod to the organization’s great goaltending legacy.
On one side of Auld’s mask is a painting of Mike Richter holding the Stanley Cup high over his head. On the other side of the mask are copies of the masks worn by former Rangers’ greats Ed Giacomin and John Davidson.
After this morning’s workout, MSG Network shot footage of the mask. And images of Auld’s new facial protection were shared on the team’s official Twitter account
, this afternoon.
“The mask is getting more attention than me,” Auld said jokingly this morning. “But that’s OK. I think it looks really cool, too.”