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Tortorella loads up for Carolina visit to MSG tonight

John Tortorella of the New York Rangers motions

John Tortorella of the New York Rangers motions to Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers late in the game against the Ottawa Senators. (April 21, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac


Coach John Tortorella is going with the big guns tonight to halt a three-game losing streak.

Henrik Lundqvist will start tonight in goal against Carolina in the first of a back-to-back, with the team visiting New Jersey tomorrow. Wonder if a win or loss will determine who plays---Lundqvist or Martin Biron---against the Devils. Martin Brodeur, who’s been sidelined, practiced today, so he could go for the Devs. Rangers also play Thursday against Florida; maybe Biron gets that one.

The other major story line is that Torts, aware of the two goals in three games, is loading up the top line, using Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, who returns to his comfort zone on right wing, and moving Carl Hagelin down with Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan. That top-gun line was used fro seven games, starting with the third game of the year. The third line is Taylor Pyatt-Brian Boyle-J.T.Miller, and the fourth, Micheal Haley-Jeff Halpern-Darroll Powe.

“I think the last time we played together, we had some success,” said Nash. “Early on in the season we were kind of finding each other. When the three of us play together we’ve got to make sure we play responsible, good defense, and get our offense from that. It should be fun, coming back home in front of our home fans, who are unbelievable. This is where we have to win games, back at home, and we have to come out with a strong start.”

Asked about if the team’s confidence level was good, Nash said:  “I think so, the last games have been tough. But you look at all those games and we’ve had a chance to win. We’ve been in it late and we just couldn’t score a big goal here or there. That definitely gives us confidence…”

The formula, according to Nash, who had no points in the three losses, is “keeping it simple taking shots from bad angles. I think when we put stretches of good wins together we were doing all the things that make scoring simple. I don’t think we played long enough where we figured each other out. You look at some of the good lines and they’ve played together for years or months, whatever it might be. But I did think early on we were having some success and each game we were getting better. It seems like everything is magnified with this amount of games. When you look at it, we can’t change it now, so there’s no point of trying to dissect it and figuring everything out. It’s over and done with and we can only worry about what happens tonight and what happens in the future.”

Arron Asham, who injured his back in Montreal, skated with the team for the first time since Wednesday in Winnipeg, and said he is closer to returning. He said the pain is something he can deal with, but he needs to be in game shape after missing 11 matches. Roman Hamrlik is in again on defense, so D Matt Gilroy and Stu Bickel are the healthy scratches.

New York Sports