At the Gahden, along with Newsday's Katie Strang, for the fourth game of this season' s six-game series. Rangers won 2-0 on Dec. 3 here. Same two goalies this time, Henrik Lundqvist and Dwayne Roloson. Two returnees for the Blueshirts: Marian Gaborik is back in the lineup for the Rangers after missing the Tampa game with a sore groin and rookie Mats Zuccarello, up again from Hartford, where he played yesterday afternoon in Bridgeport.
Chris Drury, no longer a center, but a center-turned-hybrid wing. Or as coach John Tortorella describes it, "a utility guy for me."
Drury, the team captain who is playing his fifth game since returning from a broken left index finger, was on right wing with center Artem Anisimov and Alex Frolov. "I want to keep (Derek) Stepan, Artie and Brian Boyle, three young centers, in their positions so he’s going to be playing wing," said Tortorella. "I'm using use him in all situations, very similar to what it was last year. He's done a really good job on faceoffs, as we've needed." Drury had two assists in the four games prior to last night.
Fourth-liners often are big-bodied grinders. Tonight's fourth trio isn't exactly a traditional pairing. Diminutive playmaker Mats Zuccarello, who played in Marian Gaborik's spot against Tampa last Thursday, was to start on the fourth line in his second NHL start, along with Erik Christensen and Sean Avery. "I don’t consider it a fourth line," said Tortorella. "You’ve got some talent there. Aves has been forechecking and doing some good things around the puck, and now you’re putting another skill player in with Erik. It changes the dynamic of the fourth line."
D Matt Gilroy dresses in consecutive games for the second time this month; Michael Del Zotto is a healthy scratch. Tortorella liked the performance of the Long Island native against Tampa, when he played 14:28 and registered an assist. "He just seemed to have confidence in his pinching and kept offensive plays alive," he said. Del Zotto, 20, who was a healthy scratch against Ottawa on Dec. 9 and sat out the Tampa game with a stomach virus, “knows what he needs to do to be more consistent. We’ve had enough meetings.” Todd White is the other healthy scratch.
Stay tuned here and at twitter.com/stevezipay for starters and in-game reports and commentary, as well as post-game notes, quotes and stats.