Actually, that won't be proven until we see the results of tomorrow night's game with the Islanders at Madison Square Garden but everybody seemed to have put Saturday night's meltdown at Toronto behind them when they hit the ice for today's practice. Coach Tom Renney did admit this one lingered a little longer than most but he did give the team yesterday off. Today, they came in, watched video and saw exactly how and why the Maple Leafs were able to explode for five goals late in the third period. We've gone over this but a lot of it was not getting pucks deep, not taking care of the puck on passes, going cross ice instead of down ice, etc. The power play, too, is still sluggish and that was worked on in practice today. But Markus Naslund-Scott Gomez-Chris Drury with Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden still comprised the first unit.
New lines, though, that may be used tomorrow night:
Markus Naslund-Scott Gomez-Ryan Callahan
Nigel Dawes-Chris Drury-Petr Prucha
Aaron Voros-Brandon Dubinsky-Nikolai Zherdev
Fredrik Sjostrom-Blair Betts-Colton Orr
As for Dawes, who has drawn some negative internet chatter regarding his play and contributions, Renney noted that he's actually just behind team-leader Chris Drury in primary chances, though they are not leading to goals and the best thing the team could do for Dawes right now is to continue to support him. However, when pressed on whether he might be taken from the lineup if that tact doesn't work, Renney replied, "Not yet. It might be an option later on, whenever later is."
Steve Valiquette, who gave up five goals on Toronto's final seven shots, said immediately after the game players were going around the dressing room, asking, "Are you all right, are you all right." And Valiquette said all he heard was, "Yeah, I'm all right."
"We know what happened, we got away from the game plan," Valiquette said.
Valiquette may not get the chance to be back in nets all that soon. The next set of back-to-backs is not until Dec. 3-4 and with the first game at home against the Penguins and the next at Montreal and it not being a stretch of three games in four days, I'd say Lundqvist would get both of those. Valiquette might get one of the two Florida games Thanksgiving week. Or, there's Carolina at home on Dec. 13 after the Rangers are at New Jersey the night before at the end of a stretch of three games in four days. The Rangers don't play Valiquette's standbys, the Flyers and Maple Leafs, again until Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, respectively.
Also, some Hartford notes: Renney said Lauri Korpikoski has played well in his first two games with the Wolf Pack, with an assist in each, but faded about the midway point in each game. He's in great shape, just not great game shape, according to Renney. Meanwhile, forward Dane Byers is out indefinitely, potentially for the season, after wrecking his knee. Renney said Byers had a chance to be an in-season call-up before getting hurt.
Finally, if any season-ticket holders are around the Garden Monday, just a reminder that the Rangers are holding their second season subscriber fan forum from 7-9 in the MSG Theater Lobby. Henrik Lundqvist, Markus Naslund, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Adam Graves are scheduled to be there answering questions from the fans.