It's pointless to point out this is a must-win game for the Rangers. It's been that way for a while now. The Panthers got walloped by the Devils, 7-2, so the Rangers can break the sixth-place tie at 70 points. The fifth-place Canadiens are hosting San Jose, which rarely loses and the eighth-place Sabres are at the Islanders, who rarely win.
John Tortorella's lines for tonight as he coaches his third game for the Rangers:
Markus Naslund-Scott Gomez-Nikolai Zherdev
Brandon Dubinsky-Chris Drury-Ryan Callahan
Nigel Dawes-Lauri Korpikoski-Petr Prucha
Fredrik Sjostrom-Blair Betts-Colton Orr
Henrik Lundqvist will make his 11th straight start, extending his season-high, and Mark Bell, Aaron Voros and Erik Reitz will be the healthy scratches.
The Rangers have not beaten Colorado at MSG since Nov. 20, 2001. I remember covering Glen Sather's first game as Rangers coach, an OT loss to the Avalanche (goal by future Ranger Greg de Vries), one of the crazier day in Rangers history. Sather pops onto the ice to conduct practice to widespread gasps, Mark Messier says in the locker room Slats had discussed the job with him prior to giving it to Bryan Trottier and then MSG boss Jim Dolan challenges the media to say what they really think of the Rangers. At the time, I had been on the beat all of three weeks.
Good pre-game chat with Brandon Dubinsky earlier this afternoon. Dubi had adjusted well to playing the wing and Torts seems inclined to keep him there for the time being in order to get Dubinsky playing among the top six forwards, rather than centering a third line.
"I haven't talked to him too much about where I'm playing," Dubinsky said. "Things are gong pretty well. I don't mnind wing at all. I miss taking faceoffs, otherwise I don't mind."
Obviously, the main thing to Dubinsky is being counted among the team's better players, which equates to more ice time under Tortorella.
"It's as important as anything. I like the role he's put me in. I've got to score, I've got to help create scoring opportunities."
Dubinsky has gone 14 games without a goal. Captain Chris Drury has gone a career-high 17.
Updates once the puck drops.