The Rangers had an optional practice today in Greenburgh before they head to Montreal for tomorrow night’s game. Both teams are tied for 6th place in the Eastern Division, which makes this game particularly telling.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he liked the lines that skated on Sunday, which doesn’t necessarily mean he will keep them. Obviously, Nikolai Zherdev, Scott Gomez and Sean Avery got a lot of time. Fredrik Sjostrom skated in the third line with Brandon Dubinsky at center and Ryan Callahan, Markus Naslund was with Chris Drury and Nik Antropov, and Lauri Korpikoski skated with Blair Betts and Colton Orr in the fourth.
Not surprsingly then, Orr, Betts, Korpi, Sjostorm and Aaron Voros were at the optional skate with backup goalie Steve Valiquette. Orr got a little one-on-one coaching from Benoit Allaire, and worked on shooting the puck high into the net.
Tortorella said he thought Dan Girardi did the right thing trying to protect Zherdev. He said it too many players in the NHL went after each other for good, hard hits, but with the Rangers facing Philly on the second straight night with potential for facing each other in the playoffs, “it wasn’t a bad thing at all.” Girardi got a 2 min. instigator penalty, a 10 minute misconduct and 5 mins. for fighting.
“I hate losing him for that amount of time, but you usually end up killing those things off and you get through when it’s done for the right reason and that’s what happened with this,” Tortorella said.
Drury said he liked the energy the new players are bringing to the Rangers. Which is exactly what they need this time of year. In his own words with the audio below…