For the second consecutive year, Tom Renney will toss an untested rookie into an elimination game at the Garden.
If last year it was Nigel Dawes looking to jumpstart the Rangers offense in Game 6 against Buffalo, tonight it will be Lauri Korpikoski needed simply to plug one of the many holes caused by injury.
The latest on your bruised and battered Rangers is as follows:
<li>Korpikoski will skate at fourth line for Blair Betts, who will need to have orbital surgery on his left eye– the same procedure that Paul Mara had in February — and is out for at least the series and most likely the season. It will be the NHL debut for Korpikoski, the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft who spent most of the season at wing before switching to center in the final few months.
Korpikoski was in attendance for the Rangers’ Game 3 loss on Tuesday.
“I got chills at the start. The crowd is pretty amazing,” he said. “I was hoping I would get the chance to play here. It was great.”
<li>Chris Drury (torso) skated briefly this morning and appeared to be holding back on some of his shots. But Tom Renney expects the center to skate in warm-ups and is optimistic Drury can play. “It’s looking good,” Renney said. Either way, Renney will skate one extra player in warm-ups.
<li>Expect Jason Strudwick to go in for Christian Backman. Renney said that’s where he was leaning, and seeing how Backman stayed on the ice for more skating after the regulars were gone, it appears to be a lock.
<li>No word on who goes in for Sean Avery. Petr Prucha, Ryan Hollweg, and Colton Orr all left the ice with the rest of the regulars, so all are possibilities.
<li>Avery is still in stable condition in the intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Brendan Shanahan was among the players who visited the wing yesterday, and Renney said he was planning to go there on his way to the Garden today.