GREENBURGH, N.Y. - If Rangers' backup goalie Chad Johnson gets into either tonight's or tomorrow's game against the Islanders, he'll have a very interested party following along a continent away.
Johnson's father, Terry, used to be an Islanders fan. In Calgary. Turns out it's true - we are all Islanders.
At least we used to be.
"He's a Rangers fan now," Johnson said after the Rangers' optional practice.
Johnson has a chance to make his NHL debut in the back end of the home-and-home with the Islanders that begins Wednesday at the Garden. Coach John Tortorella would commit only to Henrik Lundqvist for tonight's game, saying he hadn't even thought about who would be in goal Thursday yet.
Johnson has thought about it. How could he not? The Rangers are in the midst of a stretch in which they will play seven games in 12 days, so he has to play sometime.
Why not Thursday? If the Rangers win Wednesday, it's a possibility Johnson could make his debut at the Coliseum the next night. Bet that would make dad, a former junior player in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, plenty proud, even if he'd be rooting for the other team.
"Growing up, he was a big Islanders fan," Johnson said of his father. "I think it's one of the best rivalries. It goes way back."
How does a guy from Calgary become an Islanders fan? Probably had something to do with all of the Stanley Cups back in the day.
"I'm not sure," Johnson said. "I never asked him too much why. He just decided he's an Islanders fan. Just maybe he had a certain player on the team. It's going to be exciting to maybe get an opportunity to play them - or some other team."
Johnson - who said he didn't have a favorite team growing up but idolized Ed Belfour - has been Lundqvist's backup in three games. Lundqvist has started seven straight and 14 of 15 as the Rangers have sputtered along during a frustrating scoring drought.
They have dropped four in a row (including Monday's 3-2 shootout loss to Atlanta) and seven of eight. They have been held to two or fewer goals in 16 of their last 20 games.
"We've just got to find a way to score some goals consistently," Tortorella said. "We need to get results. That is our next step."
Tortorella hopes the season-high 48 shots the Rangers took on Monday are a sign of things to come.
"Our game was there," he said. "The effort was there. Execution in a lot of different areas in our game was much more consistent. We just don't finish our chances in key times. We've just got to keep on battling on here and try to find a way through it."
It's not like the Islanders are firing on all cylinders after Monday's 7-1 loss to Florida. Both teams have 31 points heading into what Tortorella termed a "toe-to-toe tilt."