Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault got straight to the point when asked Saturday afternoon if Henrik Lundqvist would be able to start in Game Two of the team's opening round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins later today.
"He's good to go," Vigneault answered.
Vigneault later explained what went into deciding why Lundqvist, who suffered swelling around his eye when struck by Marc Staal's errant stick during the first period of the series opener on Wednesday, would be able to play in Game Two.
"He went through practice yesterday, came to our meetings last night, talked to our doctors, got up this morning and everyone agreed there were no issues and he was good to go," offered Vigneault.
So Lundqvist will make his 112th consecutive post-season start for the Rangers, and will do so in an extremely important game today at CONSOL Energy Center. The Rangers lost Game One 5-2 and do not want to fall behind two games to none against the league's hottest team--one that has won 15 of its last 17 contests.
In addition the Rangers will be playing today without two of their regular defensemen. Team captain Ryan McDonagh will miss his fifth straight game with an upper body injury, and Dan Girardi will sit out, as well, due to an undisclosed injury after having played in the series opener. Rookies Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath will replace the veterans in New York's lineup.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was not not as forthcoming about his lineup for Game Two. With speculation running rampant in Pittsburgh that a pair of the team's injured star players--goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and center Evgeni Malkin--will return this afternoon, Sullivan refused to say if one or both will play.
"Those guys are a game-time decision and you'll soon to find out," stated Sullivan.
If Fleury can not play, third-stringer Jeff Zatkoff, who made 35 saves in his NHL playoff debut Wednesday, would once again get the start in goal for Pittsburgh.