In First Niagara Center, where the Rangers want to rebound from the 4-3 shootout loss to the Devs and the Sabres hope to keep winning after a 3-1 victory in Montreal....
With the power play sputtering---25th in the league and 1-for-24 coming into tonight’s game---Anton Stralman is being given a shot on the point.
“He’ll start on the first unit,” coach John Tortorella said, noting that the former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman who was signed as a free agent on Nov. 5, “has found a couple of other gears, offensively and defensively. It’s time we did that. That’s a big part of his game and I think it’ll even help his game. It’s not like anybody else is doing a great job back there.”
Stralman, 25, played his 26th game and has gradually improved, although he was shoved around against the Bruins and Penguins. “I think early on, he had one gear,” Tortorella said. “We asked him to get to another (gear). He’s played quicker, he’s defended harder.” And in the last 11 games, Stralman has two goals and three assists while playing primarily on the second defensive pair with Michael Del Zotto.
“He had to go through a period of figuring out how we play,” Tortorella said. “I still don’t think that should hold you back as far as intensity. The intensity should always be there. I think that was a problem early on. I think he has answered that as we pushed him along.”
Tortorella also said he would continue deploying struggling Artem Anisimov on different lines. “In the last two or three games, he’s put together some shifts, so you see his game coming back. That’s very important to us to try to find a way to get him going.”
The league fined Devils forward Eric Boulton $2,500, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for slashing Mike Rupp at 2:34 of the second period on Tuesday. No penalty was called on the play.