Five things to watch tonight, as the Rangers host the Caps, who have won four straight.
1. Derek Stepan's increased ice time. He'll play on the third line and perhaps kill some penalties
2. The effectiveness of the Rangers D against Alex Ovechkin.
3. Special teams. Caps are better than Rangers on both ends.
4. Alex Frolov has 10 points (4-6-10) in eight regualr season games against the Caps, the most against any team. Of course, that was when he was a King.
5. Erik Christensen's effort.
When right wing Marian Gaborik returns for tomorrow's or Sunday's game after being sidelined with a separated left shoulder, don't count on Christensen being his center. That is, unless Christensen shows some more steadiness, ASAP.
Christensen, who scored eight goals and 26 points in 49 games last season and signed a two-year deal this summer, has disappointed coach John Tortorella with his inconsistent play. "He plays two or three good games,and he falls off. I couldn't find him the last game (against the Blues)," Tortorella said before last night's game. "We're trying like hell with him to have him understand the consistency of it all. We need his skill, but he's got to grab a hold of it in a more consistent way or we're going to try different people."
Having found some success last season with Gaborik and Vinny Prospal (also currently sidelined), the former Penguin and Thrasher was pointless in four of the last five games and has just two goals and two assists."It's a mental thing, as far as feeling good enough about yourself. This is why he's...bounced around. He's very likeable, but there has to be consistency. We're not trying to run him out of here, we're trying to help him, but sometimes a player has to help himself."
Although Gaborik is "very close", Tortorella said, Prospal, who had surgery to remove a bone fragment from behind his right knee on Oct. 18, is about a month or so away from returning. "We're looking at mid to late December, He's doing all the things he needs to do," Tortorella said. Prospal was the team's second-leading scorer last year with 20 goals and 58 points....
Matt Gilroy was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Rookie Mike Sauer was the sixth D. "There has to be a point in time that you need to go with the lineup that you think has the best chance to win," Tortorella said. "Right now, I think that is our best six."