ATLANTA----The King will start for first time in eight days as the Rangers try to crack a season-high, five game winless slide. Did not want to speak after the optional. The Blueshirts are 17-11-1 on the road and are clearly aware of the pressure. They have not had a lead in 214:24. Michael del Zotto in, Steve Eminger out for fifth straight.
This from coach John Tortorella:
"There comes a time, and I think we’re there, you feel your team certainly hasn’t been dogs, but we still haven’t found a way to do something to win a hockey game. We’re there...I'm anxious to see what guys step up."
On keeping the Prospal-Christensen-Gaborik line together: " I’m hoping, as a group, they realize how much we need them. It’d be easy for me to split them up, then it fouls up things for other lines who I think are pretty good lines. I think Vinny puts pressure on teammates; I’m not locked in, have to make reads during the game…I want to give it a chance, we’ll see where it goes.….I have to balance that...I like Boyle’s line, I know Anisimov’s line has played together before, the kids."
On Gaborik: "Everybody wants production. Gabby’s not a young kid. He knows. I think he cares. You put all those together and it hard not to think about end results. You can tell he loves scoring goals and goal scorers, when they get jammed up you can tell they’re just thinking about the gratification of that. To me, it always has been, his legs. That’s the inconsistent part of his game."
On Gaborik and the power play, which practiced twice in two days:
"Just trying to give them a foundation but allow them to be creative, put in maybe a little bit of a different set up, just trying to get them to play. You can’t map out things, the creative people are on the ice because they have creativity. The biggest thing we’re trying to work on is puck movement and that’s a big part of the struggles he’s had is he wants to hold onto it all the time. It really hurts him because teams key on him, because they can adjust to him, in today's game when you’re a goal scorer or really creative player sometimes its best not to have the puck; let them defend over there and you’ll get some ice to play on. That’s been a point of contention all year long with Gabby, you’ve got to give it up to get it back. The two days we worked on it. that was a point of emphasis…You can’t be thinking on the ice, it can paralyze you, he’s got to allow his game to go…he may not score the goal, he may open up other people."
For Thrash, D Tobias Emstrom back from missing six games with injury