Some pre-game scenes:
Down the corridor from where Chef Duff was mixing and putting the final touches on a cake shaped like a goaltender's mask with 85 cupcakes (part of the cake was driven down north from Charm City Bakery in Baltimore this afternoon), coach John Tortorella held his first pre-game briefing of the season at the Garden.
His recipe for winning at home---and away?
To sent the tone, Tortorella sent two letters to the team this summer about grabbing the initiative here at the Garden. He didn't discuss what he wrote. "I can't tell you what I said (in yesterday's meeting) but it was shorter than I thought it would be...They were prepared and they took over the meeting."
He also sketched out a gameplan and philosophy that involved a need to "try to get on the attack right away, home or away we're trying to build an identity, consistently attack, not counter, try to inflict...and pressure...For the first few games we did a lot of that, now you've got to do it consistently."
Chris Drury, as expected will skate between marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov rather than Erik Christensen, who tweaked his groin in the third period against the Islanders. "He skated today, but it's still sore," Tortorella said. Michael Sauer and Todd White are healthy scratches.
The coach hopes Drury brings intangibles to his season debut, as well as a goal. "He's our captain. I think teammates are cognizant of that, when a captain's out. And the way he plays., he does a lot of the little things, faceoffs, blocking shots...I think he's grown a lot as a captain in the room and sure, you want him back in there. He's well-liked, he's well-respected."
Asked what he hoped Drury would do to trigger that line, he said "Score a goal....I hope he regains his confidence a little bit offensively. That's a line that still trying to find a way with Erik there, that hasn't really sustained as much offense, really, as Anisimov and Stepan's lines. No one expected Drury to be playing as top center around here, I want to give him a chance to gain some confidence that way and something good happen for him. I'm, not messing around with the other two lines."
Tortorella said he "talked to him over the summer, I think he was hard on himself at the end of the year as far as his contributions, he wants to do more, I want to give him an opportunity to see if he can regain some confidence, and you knever know."
The Rangers bagged the game-day morning skate today and will in the future. "It's one of the most overrated things in hockey, and we felt we were a much better club last year when we started, and I have stats on it, not sure when we started in January...The guys from the city, it's really a three-hour ordeal for maybe a 15-minute meeting that we can do in the evening, and really skate for no reason other than routine. We felt we were a much fresher team, we feel it will pay dividends in the big picture of a long season."
On Gilroy: "I'm looking for him to defend as hard as he can. It's been a point of contention for us in not allowing people to come out of the coirner and mirror people versus when he has an opportunity to close out, we're always looking for that with Gilly, and we want him up the ice when we have the puck. His skating is one of his strengths. I really think he took to heart our meetings last year. I think he has a different mindset but it has to translate on the ice consistently. And maybe as we go through that five and six position we'll figure out what we're going to do there."
The family of Rangers icon Lester Patrick is in attendance and two grandsons will have the ceremonial puck drop with captains Drury and Dion Phaneuf...