Update @ 12:15 EST: Biron confirmed in net; Matt Gilroy will remain on defense.
Confirmed: Biron in net. Gilroy remains in the lineup.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) February 2, 2013
After the embarrassing 3-0 shutout loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 31, the New York Rangers are hoping their fortunes with the hockey gods are in better standing tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It will be anything but easy as the Lightning won 8-3 against the Winnipeg Jets last night.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella felt that the Rangers’ last game against the Penguins was their worst of the season by far.
“There was nothing in that glass last night [against the Penguins]. Collectively as a group we didn’t play good.”
He also strongly believes that the Rangers as a team need to regain the confidence and mindset that carried them deep into the playoffs last season.
Andrew Gross of The Bergen Record had a chance to speak with Tortorella on Friday.
“I think all players go through that, confidence is a big thing,” Tortorella said. “It’s something that we always about, the even keel. The situation with a number of our players, that’s very important right now. It doesn’t matter how old you are, everybody goes through that. An athlete can’t do the things he wants to do unless he feels good about himself so that’s something a number of them are going through right now.”
Constant penalties destroyed any chance of the Rangers coming back in the 3-0 loss to the Penguins, and Tortorella is definitely looking for his team to play much more disciplined, and have better on-ice awareness after taking multiple “too many men on the ice” penalties which gave the Penguins ample opportunity to convert on the power play.
Line Adjustments and Goalie Assignment
Backup goaltender Martin Biron will most likely get his first start of the season tonight against the Lightning, although it has yet to be confirmed. Lundqvist started the first seven games in a row, and is definitely due for a break. While Lundqvist and Rangers fans would love for him to play every game, every night, it’s simply not realistic. Biron will be heavily tested tonight against the explosive Lightning offense.
While Chris Kreider has stated that he “feels much better” and has resumed skating with the Rangers, he’s still a couple games away from returning to the lineup.
“It’s better than it was. There’s obviously improvement but it’s day-to-day.” He continued, “I want to play hockey. The ankle isn’t where I want it to be and I will need some conditioning.”
Gross also reports that Bickel skated as a forward today, so it’s likely he’ll take a spot on the fourth offensive line.
Interestingly, Gross tweets that Matt Gilroy and Steve Eminger are most likely going to be healthy scratches for tonight, but it has not been confirmed yet.
The practice lines for offense today were as follows:
The game will be broadcast on MSG+ tonight at 7pm eastern, and will be available on NHL Gamecenter.