No chocolate kisses today. This could be more like the St. Valentine’s Day massacre … remember how ugly it got last time Tampa was in town — Voros and Konopka fighting 10 seconds into the game, the Rangers stomping over the Lightning 8-2, Tampa Bay taking exception and Malone bloodying Voros late, and Halpern fighting Dubinsky late.
And Rick Tocchet making this quote-of-the-year quality remark: “They played great. They out-hit us, they outplayed us, they out-everythinged us. They out-coached us. Every facet of the game, they out-did us. Their leaders out-did our leaders. Their goaltenders out-goaltended us. You can go down the list. The only thing we did was the bus was on time to get us to this game. The bus driver was the best thing we had.”
(That game was such a circus that the Rangers goal scorers included Drury, Girardi, Lisin, Staal, Voros and Higgins. Higgins, for God’s sake!)
So figure Tampa Bay is pretty ticked off coming into this game, recalling the Garden party the Rangers enjoyed that night, and that Tocchet surely has a long memory, and add to it that the game is really important in the playoff race — not only because it leads into the Olympic break but also because you need to win games like this at this time of year , or because the Rangers haven’t won nearly enough of these all season.
Now throw in Brandon Prust and Jody Shelley, who will probably drop ‘em one one of his first shifts as a Ranger, and that Vor0s will also be in the lineup (Enver Lisin is prucha’d). Potential for some crazy stuff.
No Gaborik, no Del Zotto today. Enjoy.
AFTERNOON UPDATE, 12:48 p.m.: Konopka and Todd Fedoruk both skated in warmups, and probably will play. … Shelley is wearing No. 45.