without Derek Boogaard, who was in New York prepping to have his shoulder examined.
Tonight's game against the Blue Jackets opens a six-game segment against teams who have proven to be playoff contenders. The next five are Washington, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, all before Santa's visit. There's another rugged stretch starting Jan. 7, but it's likely that Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal will have returned by then.
I thought of all this after steak and salad last night at Mitchell's here in downtown Columbus, but because it seems as if I've been on the move for 48 hours, just watched the Linus Omark shootout move (what's the big deal about showboating? Seen worse. Lightning shouldn't be complaining) and chose the pillow instead.
Anyway, there's a Rangers optional skate this morning, pretty convinced that Martin Biron will start tonight and Henrik Lundqvist tomorrow at home versus AO and the Caps. Will check in from there with updates on scratches (Steve Eminger?) here and on twitter.com/stevezipay. Jackets have scuffled a bit lately (4-5-1 in last 10, 1-5-1 in last 7), Nikita Filatov has been sent down.
One thing to watch: The PPs. Jackets are 30th in league at home. Rangers are No. 6 on road. Rangers PK broke down on 2 of 4 in Ottawa, though. Would not be surprised to see frustrated Jackets be more physical overall against Blueshirts. Paging Brandon Prust....
Early reminder: Back away from the holiday shopping and party planning on Wednesday at 2. I'll be hosting the FWC (Free and Fabulous Weekly Chat, for now) live from CONSOL Energy Center or the humble hotel down the block, depending...