• Pregame Notes
• MSG2 Channel Listings for Tonight's Game
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Although the Rangers are playing a difficult set of divisional back-to-back games on the road -- starting Thursday night in Philadelphia and concluding tonight in New Jersey -- head coach John Tortorella said it was never even a consideration in his mind that Henrik Lundqvist
would not be the starting goaltender tonight vs. the Devils.
“I’m playing Hank against New Jersey,” said Tortorella at the morning skate Friday. “I don’t care if it’s four games in four nights, Hank’s playing against Jersey.”
|Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who beat the Devils on Oct. 24 at MSG, has won 19 of his 31 career decisions against New Jersey and has taken five of the other 12 career decisions to overtime. |
The reason for Tortorella’s certainty is based in Lundqvist’s terrific career numbers against the Devils. In 31 games vs. New Jersey, Lundqvist is 19-7-5 with a sterling 1.89 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He also has notched four of his 25 career shutouts against the Devils.
Earlier this season, Lundqvist turned in a 27-save effort when the Rangers bested the Devils 3-1 at Madison Square Garden back on Oct. 24.
“I enjoy playing the Devils, it’s a great rivalry for us,” said Lundqvist. “I think they are always really intense, well-played games, and as a goaltender it’s easy to be ready for them.”
Usually a Rangers-Devils match-up creates a duel between Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur, two of the top goalies in the league. However tonight Brodeur will be unable to play due to a sore elbow -- an injury suffered in Wednesday’s victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
That means Lundqvist will instead face fellow Swedish netminder Johan Hedberg.
“It’s always a little special to play against Swedes,” said Lundqvist. “And as for the Devils, their record is not great, but we all know that they will play hard.
The Rangers enter play tonight with a 6-5-1 record, good for 13 points, seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. The struggling Devils are last in the East with a 4-9-1 mark and nine points.Callahan to miss tonight’s game
Tonight’s game pits two of the most physically banged-up teams in the entire National Hockey League.
Along with missing Brodeur, the Devils will be without defenseman Colin White, who has a case of the flu, and six other regulars, including winger Zach Parise, who had knee surgery this week and will miss up to three months of action.
The Rangers, who have been playing without the injured Marian Gaborik
, Chris Drury, and Vinny Prospal, will also have to do without their leading scorer Ryan Callahan
tonight. Tortorella explained this morning that Callahan is too sore to play without providing further explanation.
“We’ve had injuries throughout the year, and I’m a firm believer that it’s helped our team because it’s brought our team together,” said Tortorella. “It really has helped us to find how we have to play. Now this is another (injury), a very big one, but it gives other people opportunity.”
In the last two games, Callahan -- who has a team-high 13 points -- received stitches in his ankle Monday against the Blackhawks and then went awkwardly with his head and neck into the boards last night against the Flyers.
|Alex Frolov |
Tortorella said that Alex Frolov likely will get the chance to take Callahan’s spot on the No. 1 line tonight, perhaps an opportunity to get the struggling scorer going offensively. Frolov has just two goals and five points in 12 games this season.
“I’m not upset with (Frolov’s) effort at all, he has worked very hard,” said Tortorella. “I just want him to get rewarded. I hope he gets an opportunity to score some goals playing with (Artem Anisimov
) and (Brandon Dubinsky
In addition, winger Ruslan Fedotenko
is banged up after taking an elbow to the head courtesy of Philly’s Dan Carcillo last night. Tortorella believes that Fedotenko should be able to play, however, and the veteran forward said, “so far, so good” after taking part in the morning skate.
Should Fedotenko not be able to play, Tortorella said that he would dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards, without calling up another forward form Hartford. Todd White already will be inserted into the lineup to take Callahan’s spot.