There is no need reminding the Rangers the importance of tonight against the Penguins. If they weren’t looking at TSN on the TV in their workout room or scanning the newspaper, then they needed only to look at the serious expressions on their own faces at today’s optional morning skate.
Hey, Toots, pass the Tums!
No, the season doesn’t technically ride on tonight. But it’s close enough, and everyone knows it.
“I think thereâ€™s a fine line, but I think itâ€™s a lineÂ weâ€™re definitely capable of walking and having success with,” Tom Renney said of the team’s back now being against the wall. “Thereâ€™s been a number of times this year when weâ€™ve needed this game and itâ€™s presented a certain challenge to us and weâ€™ve risen to that challenge.
“Not to suggest yesterday wasnâ€™t one of those games but the dynamic is what it was. I think our experienced people will be important to us tonight. I think our preparation and attention to detail will be important to us. What weâ€™ve got to be careful of is that we donâ€™t overprepare that it brings us to a standstill.”
Meanwhile, some notes:
<li>Blair Betts made his return to the ice and reported minimal pain a little more than a few week after foot surgery.
“I think today was a chance to see whether it was too painful to skate,” Betts said. “I would have known as soon as I put my skate on.”
But having passed that test, Betts’ return to the lineup now depends on getting his conditioning back.
“It was a tough decision,” Betts said of having the surgery. “But the week before I had it done, I couldn’t play as well or skate as well as I wanted.”
<li>Don’t look for Colton Orr back tonight. The Rangers’ enforcer was wearing a boot on his right foot, leaving his status unclear for the final four games.
<li>Without Orr again, look for the same lineup tonight as yesterday in Pittsburgh, and likely the same line combinations. That means no Sean Avery back with Jaromir Jagr and Brandon Dubinsky, a combination that seemed to have success before Scott Gomez’s injury.
“All of our lines have had success when they’re first put together,” Renney said when asked about it. “The ability to sustain that has been the trick.”