John Tortorella changes lines ahead of Islanders showdown
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Declaring that two of his lines were "stale offensively," Rangers coach John Tortorella tinkered with his trios on the eve of Saturday night's showdown for playoff positioning on Long Island.
"I think Brian's been, little by little, getting his game," Tortorella said, "but it wasn't one particular guy I was trying to change. I just thought we were stale offensively."
The Rangers (20-16-4), who are in eighth place in the East, two points behind the Islanders, hope to find some extra goals. Marian Gaborik, now with Columbus, scored in each of the previous three games against the Islanders; J.T. Miller, who had two goals against the Islanders, is with the AHL's Connecticut Whale.
Hagelin, who had a goal and an assist against Toronto on Wednesday, Rick Nash, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh have the other scores against the Islanders this season. Henrik Lundqvist, who is 2-0 against the Islanders, allowing one goal in each appearance, will be in net.
On defense, the Rangers certainly will focus on center John Tavares, who has 24 goals and 18 assists.
"You don't think he's that fast, but he's got such a powerful stride and gets up and down the ice," McDonagh said. "He always seems to know where his linemates are, so if you give him a second to look around, he'll find open guys. We definitely have to try to keep a good gap on him, defend him as much as we can."
As he has with other opponents, Tortorella declined to discuss the Islanders. "I haven't paid too much attention to them," he said. "We're just going to worry about the Rangers and play our game."