At a glance: After a nine-game road trip that left them reeling with a 3-6-0 record to start the 2013-14 season, the Rangers finally return home to a revamped Madison Square Garden in Monday's Original Six matchup against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. This marks the start of a critical stretch in which the Rangers play five of the next six at home, with the only road game being Tuesday's divisional clash against the Islanders. With the Blueshirts five points back from a playoff spot, they have some ground to make up in the Eastern Conference standings.
Return of the King: Bigger than the boost they will receive from their familiar digs is the lift the Rangers will get from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's return. Though backup Cam Talbot served as a capable fill-in while Lundqvist was out with an unspecified injury the past two games, the Rangers want their former Vezina Trophy winner in the net. The 31-year-old Lundqvist, who battled the injury while playing for a stretch of the road trip, is off to a rocky start with a 3.45 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage. Now that he has put the injury behind him, the Rangers hope he can return to form.
Still depleted: Though Lundqvist is making his return Monday night, the Ranger are still without half of their top six forwards. Carl Hagelin (shoulder) is the closest to coming back; the speedy winger is eligible to come off the long-term injured list Tuesday. Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash aren't expected back any time soon, however. Callahan is not slated to return for approximately three weeks, while Nash's status is even more nebulous. The star winger, who suffered a concussion earlier this month, has not appeared to make any progress toward a comeback. According to the team, there is "nothing new" with Nash's situation.
Bad Hab-it: The Rangers were swept in last season's series against the Canadiens, but Montreal seems to be amid a bit of a skid, with losses in three of its last four games.