Some numbers, of which the Rangers, I'll bet (no Rick Tocchet jokes here), are aware:
Power play goals by Stamkos: 21, tops in NHL
Power play assists by LW Martin St. Louis, 28: tops in NHL
Power play points by Stamkos: 38, 1st in league
Get the pitcha? Rangers might want to have a guy or two on No. 91. The Rangers do have the 4th ranked PK on the road. But their PP is 29th away from the Garden.
Penalty minutes by Zenon Konopka: 248, 1st in NHL
St. Louis has three goals, six assists in past eight games
Tampa is 2-6 lately at home. They are thin at D, with Paul Ranger, Victor Hedman, David Hale and Matt Smaby doubtful.
Just noticed that I never posted my story in today's paper here. What the heck...
TAMPA---Plenty of one-day tans visible in the visitors dressing room at the St. Pete Times Forum yesterday. Now the Rangers hope they aren’t burned in this two-game Florida trip that begins tonight against the Lightning. After all, the Rangers lost 5-1 here on Nov. 27 in John Tortorella’s return to the city where he coached for seven years.
But tonight’s game won’t be about the coach, who declined to acknowledge the crowd’s cheers from the bench in the last visit. This time, his players need to extend their 3-0-1 streak that has them on the post-season ledge.
Henrik Lundqvist, who is expected to start his 12th straight game in goal, said Wednesday’s day off in the sun and an early, hour-long practice yesterday was re-energizing. “It’s been raining so much in New York, you can get depressed,” said Lundqvist, who spent Wednesday out on the bay with some teammates. “I think it was a good call to come here right after the Islanders game. This is a good break, we're refreshed."
Lundqvist, who has 31 wins and ranks in the top ten in the NHL in save percentage (.919) and goals-against-average (2.45) among No. 1 goaltenders, said he refuses to think about the possibility that the Rangers, with 78 points, will have to run the table with six games remaining. “You can’t look at it that way. It’s night-by-night.”
Before the puck drops tonight, the outside-looking-in Rangers will have one advantage: a game in hand on the playoff rival Bruins, Flyers and Canadiens, and two in hand on the ninth-place Thrashers.
Citing some defensive inexperience, coach John Tortorella said forward Enver Lisin and defensman Matt Gilroy will not dress again. Center Corey Locke will play his second straight game since being called up from Hartford and 35-year-old Anders Eriksson will be back on the third d-pair with Wade Redden.
“We’d like him (Lisin) to think the game a little better,” said coach John Tortorella. “Locke is an offensive guy, we’re going to give him a chance to produce some offense. With Lis, I don’t want to get hurt by a lapse defensively. Same thing with Gilly. He’s working at it. In crunch time we still think Gilly needs some work underneath the hashmarks, in taking people off the puck and stopping cycles. And although Eriksson didn’t play all that many minutes (against the Islanders), there were small plays he did make and that’s experience. In crunch time, we still think (Gilroy) needs some work underneath the hashmarks, in taking people off the puck and stopping cycles.”
Notes & Quotes
Neither Ryan Callahan or Sean Avery is very close to returning. Callahan (right knee) was on the bike, felt slightly better, but didn’t skate on his own. Avery, his left knee wrapped, watched practice from near the glass and said there wasn't much improvement. But Brian Boyle (left ankle) rode the bike and might participate today at the optional skate. "There's almost no swelling and it feels much better," he said.
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