NEW YORK – All-Star defenseman Marc Staal will likely be in the lineup for the Rangers, coach John Tortorella said during his pre-game press briefing as New York prepares to face Minnesota (33-25-6) for the second time this season. Staal had missed the last three games with a knee strain.
Ruslan Fedotenko, who has missed 16 of the last 17 games with a shoulder injury and an appendectomy, will return and skate with center Brian Boyle and right wing Brandon Prust.
Marian Gaborik (concussion) will miss his fifth consecutive game tonight. Tortorella also ruled him out of tomorrow night’s game in Ottawa, but said his star winger might fly to Ontario on the team charter later tonight.
For the Rangers (33-28-4), it’s important to get off to a quick start. They’ve played to a 4-9-1 record since January 25.
“I think it’s important we express ourselves. We know what we are as a team; we know when we’re successful how we have to play. We have to try to get to that right away,” Tortorella said. “It’s been around us quite a while. We were winning some of these games at the beginning of the year, and now we’re finding ways to lose them.”
The Rangers are 12-20-2 when allowing the game’s first goal, and 2-7-1 in their last ten one-goal games after starting the year 15-5-3 in one-goal games.
“I think it’s very important, as we go through this last stretch here, is not be in the box as much,” Tortorella said. “We have to be disciplined. We have to have some more spark and energy to our game, but we can’t be running around taking penalties. We play so many one goal games, we have to be disciplined and give ourselves a chance.”
“I’ll fight you all if you think we’re playing bad hockey. We’re not. But we’re not playing well enough to win,” Tortorella said. “That’s where we’ve been at for quite a while.”