The most critical coaching decision for John Tortorella to make over the next 13 games is simply this: How long to ride Henrik Lundqvist?.
So when I asked the head coach today about the issue, he did concede that Lundqvist would play "the majority" -- and sounded as if Alex Auld would get a couple starts.
“Henrik’s going to play, I’m not looking too far ahead,” Tortorella said. “I think we’ve been really good as far as the rest with the hockey club and rest with Hank. He didn’t play a whole bunch in the Olympics. Selfishly for the New York Rangers, that was a good thing. He’s going to play the majority. Is he going to play all? I don’t know.”
With three sets of back-to-back games-- March 24 (Islanders) and March 25 at New Jersey; April 2 (at Tampa and April 3 at Florida); April 6 in Buffalo, April 7 Toronto---the sense here is that Lundqvist will play against Montreal and Boston. Auld may slide in on Thursday against St. Louis at home and will probably play one of the two in Florida, especially if the Rangers are in a playoff spot. Buffalo and Toronto? Too close to call, depends on the point total and where the competitors are.
Boston plays the Devils tonight. Like Torts and some of the players, I'll be watching and may chime in here, so swing by.
FYI, here's the rest of the Bs schedule: Eight home, six away, three B2Bs.
Tuesday: Bruins-Canes, Thursday: Pens at Bs; Sunday: NYR at Bs.
Tuesday 3/23: Bs at Thrashers; 3/25, Tampa at Bs; 3/27, Flames at Bs;
3/29: Sabres at Bs; 3/30: Bs at NJ; 4/1: Florida at Bs; 4/3: Bs at Leafs;
4/5 Bs at Caps; 4/8: Sabres at Bs; 4/10 Canes at Bs; 4/11: Bs at Caps.
Note: Two in DC, two vs Sabres, one vs. Pens, another in NJ. No long trips. Think this could go down to final week.
CD Recommendation of the week: William Topley's "Sea Fever"