Wednesday, January 23, 2013
W2W4: Rangers vs. Bruins
By Katie Strang
At a glance: After dropping the season opener to Boston at TD Garden on Saturday, the Rangers have a quick turnaround with another game against the Bruins on Wednesday. The 0-2-0 Rangers will host the 2-0-0 Bruins at Madison Square Garden.
"Hard" sell: With two losses to start the season and little evidence that the team’s black-and-blue mentality from last season has carried over, coach John Tortorella has insisted the team must improve its mental toughness. With little clicking for his club, Tortorella won’t be afraid to shuffle his lines and make in-game adjustments.
Superline?: Although veteran center Brad Richards and star winger Rick Nash have played together exclusively, the two have not spent much time together with Marian Gaborik. That may change Wednesday if Tortorella decides to load up on the team’s top line in hopes of triggering some offense.
Don’t panic: Yes, the Rangers are already four points out of the Atlantic Division lead, but the team got off to a slow start last season, too. Before going on to claim the Eastern Conference title with 109 points, the Rangers began last season 0-1-2. No reason to fret quite yet.
Bounce-back: Not since March 2011 has Henrik Lundqvist been pulled for performance reasons, but it took all of two games for it to happen this season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was yanked after surrendering four goals on 18 shots in the team’s 6-2 loss to the Penguins on Sunday, although Tortorella later said he didn’t want the King to stay in with the poor quality of play in front of him. Lundqvist is coming off the best season of his career, but has given up seven goals over the past two games. How will he respond Wednesday?
Asham Wednesday: After making his Rangers debut against his former team Sunday -- and dropping the gloves against Pittsburgh’s Tanner Glass -- Arron Asham is likely out for Wednesday’s game with a mild groin strain. Asham did not practice Tuesday with the team, and Tortorella said he was "not sure" if he’d be available to play against the Bruins.
Moving on up: With Asham’s absence from the lineup, sixth defenseman Stu Bickel will likely slot in as the fourth-line right wing, as he did occasionally last season. Bickel practiced on the fourth line with Mike Rupp and center Jeff Halpern on Tuesday. Defenseman Steve Eminger will likely dress for his first game of the season, paired with Michael Del Zotto.