Let's get the news outta the way first. Michael Sauer (shoulder) out Saturday, but will make Western trip. Jeff Woywitka (wearing No. 6) steps in alongside Steve Eminger on the third pair. Which makes the second pair Michael Del Zotto and Tim Erixon, if what we saw in practice is to be believed.
Wojtek Wolski (groin) skated for the first time since the team return to the U.S. Says he's frustrated, and not 100 percent yet. I'd say he's doubtful for the Isles match.
Seems like Lundqvist vs. Montoya at NCMC. That's the way the final two games in this rivalry started last season, a 6-2 NYR win at the Garden on March 15 and a 6-2 Isles victory two weeks later in Uniondale. Montoya was relieved by Nathan Lawson in the first one; Chad Johnson replaced The King in the second.
Basically all the Rangers I spoke with after practice say they are looking forward to an intense game after the week of practice and rest. Funny. I'd hope for a blowout if I were winless. But they know the Isles get up for these square-offs.
See my complete preview, with quotes, in the paper and online around here soon...
Now for the Time Tunnel.
Oct 11, 2010. Hempstead Turnpike. Blake Comeau scores; DiPietro stops Gabby on a penalty shot. Dubi, Bailey trade goals. Del Zotto and Girardi score, as do Moulson and Anisimov. Then, bang, bang, 2 Isles PP goals in 58 ticks and an empty netter. 6-4 orange, blue and white. Lundqvist: 26 saves on 32 shots.
Dec. 2, 2010 Gaborik hat trick, with two Gs in third. Lundqvist comes in to relieve Biron in the second. Back and forth game again. Sean Avery has three assists. 6-5 Rangers.
March 31, 2011. Vinny Prospal scores at 14:25 of the first and Islanders storm back with six straight. Lundqvist departs after the second period of his 22nd straight start, replaced by Chad Johnson. 6-2 Isles and Montoya. Rangers 0-for-8 on the PP.
Welcome to the local hockey rivalry, Mr. Richards and Mr. Erixon. You too, Mr. Rupp. Tighten the chin straps.