Not a major surprise, given the last few games, but Martin Biron, who made 26 saves in the 5-2 triumph in Minnesota, will start tonight at home against Calgary and an inconsistent Henrik Lundqvist in Tampa on Wednesday.
"It’s the way he (Biron) played and it also gives us---a team that’s having problems finding ice time to practice with our schedule---gives Hank a day to practice during the skate in Minnesota," coach John Tortorella said this morning. "Hank has been inconsistent. We have a backup who has played well, and it gives Henrik two more solid days of practice---he’s playing in Tampa. Hank is our No. 1 goalie. This gives him a chance to regain some of his technique with Ben. (Goaltending coach Benoit Allaire)"
Tonight's game against Calgary will be Biron's seventh start in 22 games. "This one here, after the weekend and pulling Hank, probably wasn’t in the plan. Marty deserves to play."
Lundqvist is tuning up "everything with his game. He went from Pittsburgh, where we had no chance if he didn’t play the way he played, to two inconsistent efforts, and that’s gone on a little bit this year. I think Hank understands that. We had a great conversation yesterday."
Tortorella reaffirmed that Lundqvist has to be the "backbone" of the team and would need to regain his form for the Rangers to make a playoff run.
"I don’t think we went into the season thinking we were going to sit him (Lundqvist) and not allow him to get into a flow," said Tortorella. "That’s not our plan, this isn’t a 1, 1A, he’s going to play the bulk of these games. It’s not a two-goalie system…This has changed it a little bit because of the inconsistency. Hank has to be the backbone of this team if we’re going to get where we want to be. We’re going to allow Hank to work through this, I believe Hank’s going to get his game together. Right now, we have a guy that’s playing pretty well and it allows us to get Hank some practice time to get himself going…Hank’s our No. 1 guy and we’re gonna ride him... As we go through, he’s going to have to ride through some of this by playing, we’re not going to alternate the goalies."
Lundqvist is healthy, Tortorella confirmed in his own unique way. "If he was injured, I wouldn’t tell you, but he isn’t injured and I’m telling you. He wants to play. He’s gonna be fine. I’m not running down Marty. It’s a good situation for Hank now and for later. It was hard last year. I give Marty a lot of credit in the way he’s handling himself here."
Chris Drury (broken finger) and Michal Rozsival (shoulder, knee) skated earlier this morning. "Dru hasn’t been able to hold this stick, but Rozsival will be ready by the weekend, Friday (in Florida) or Saturday (in Nashville)."
The starting lineup will mirror the group in Minnesota, but could change during the game.
Frolov-Stepan-Gaborik; Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan; Prust-Boyle-Fedotenko; Avery-Christensen-Boogaard; Staal-Girardi; Del Zotto-Eminger; Gilroy-Sauer
"Coming off a crazy road trip, with some screwed up travel," Tortorella said, (team got to airport on Saturday night but couldn't fly, bussed back to hotel slipping and sliding on the icy roads like everyone else and arrived home yesterday afternoon). Tonight against Calgary, without a full day off, "is a game that’s got to come from within. We talked about that in the morning meeting, had an extended skate to get the cobwebs out. But tonight, you've gotta find a way to squeeze it out of yourself and make something happen."
Brandon Prust, the former Flame who came here in the Olli Jokinen trade for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins, yesterday recalled the first time he was asked to kill penalties after the swap.
"Against Toronto," Prust said, "I think we had a couple guys hurt and Torts asked on the bench "Can you kill?" and I said 'Yeah". I should've said, "I'm usually on the power play, but I can kill, too."
Tortorella said Prust and Brian Boyle have been "a pretty good tandem killing penalties. Prust has done a great job protecting pucks along the boards. He's one of the better guys. He's gotten the opportunity and earned his ice time."
Prust said his right knee, which struck the ice first after a check when he put his arms out to protect his head, and created a severe charley house, feels better . "Not much, but better."
On Boogaard: "I have him on right wing now, thought he made some good plays in Minny, he was instrumental in the first goal. He’s in better shape, still has a lot of work to do."
On Gilroy: "He had a couple escape moves by carrying the puck, you can see he feels a little more confident. Mike Sauer, Emmy and Gilly have stepped up in his (Rozsival's) absence."