Had my oatmeal and thank heavens for little favors, it's not snowing here, close by Lake Erie...Now let's set the table for tonight, as teams have caught up to the Rangers in games played:
The lower East (side) standings:
7 Rangers 76 games 41-30-5 87
8 Buffalo 76 games 38-29-9 85
9 Carolina 76 games 36-30-10 82
10 Toronto 77 games 35-32-10 80
The other game of note tonight is Montreal at Carolina....
My assessment of the schedule? Looks like the hotel rooms I booked in Philadelphia, Washington and Boston are the ones in play. Barring a collapse, Rangers should finish between 6 and 8. Pittsburgh and Tampa seem headed for a 4-5 first-rounder. Rangers head home tonight to face Isles in Uniondale tomorrow.
Anyway, Rangers skate at HSBC at 11:30. We'll determine whether Mats Zuccarello plays or is scratched, as well as the status of D Matt Gilroy.
Here's some more from yesterday:
At this time last season, the Rangers were on the ledge, at 34-32-10, in 10th place and desperately trying not to look down.The view is much sweeter this season as April approaches.
"Last year we needed help from other teams,” said Brian Boyle. “All we need to do now is keep getting points. Have we played a bigger game this year? Not so far.”
"It's a playoff-style game and we have to win it," said Ryan Callahan, who has 22 points in the last 19 games. “It’s the most important game of the season.”
The Rangers are 2-1 against the Sabres this season, winning 6-3 here on opening night on the strength of Derek Stepan’s hat trick in his NHL debut and again on Nov. 11, when Artem Anisimov scored the tying goal and the overtime winner at Madison Square Garden. Stepan, who scored the lone goal against the Bruins on Saturday on a deflection, will remain between Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik tonight, coach John Tortorella said.
The Sabres won 3-2 at the Garden on March 1, the second time Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist (with a 1.67 GAA in his last ten starts) squared off. Martin Biron and Jonas Enroth played on Nov. 11.
Zuccarello, a healthy scratch for the first time this season in Boston, could return. Tortorella said the diminutive winger didn’t hit “a wall, just a little inconsistency….I don’t think he’s played poorly. I don’t want to lose him because he’s an offensive guy who can add some stuff on the power play. But I haven’t made up my mind on the lineup.”
In the three games with the Sabres, Brandon Dubinsky and Erik Christiansen each have two goals. Anisimov added another one for three...
Tommy Grant, 24, a forward who had two assists in his pro debut with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale on Sunday, was signed after an amateur tryout. Grant (6-2, 195) was 16-16-32 in 37 games with the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.