First the news. Christensen skated today and came off the ice. The groin, or whatever it is, still bothering him. So he won’t play tonight. Drury will play on the first line … more below about that.
Gilroy is in for Sauer, playing with Eminger. The rest of the lineup remains the same.
No update on Vinny Prospal.
The ceremonial faceoff will involve former Rangers GM Craig Patrick, in honor of the legendary Patrick family, to begin the 85th anniversary season.
Here’s John Tortorella from his pre-game presser:
On having Drury in the lineup:
“He’s our captain. I think teammates are cognizant of that when a captain’s out, and the way he plays — he does a lot of the little things, faceoffs, blocking shots — and he brings an intangible. I think he’s grown as a captain in the room, and sure, you want him back in there. I think he’s well-liked, well respected and players see that he’s not there when he’s not in the lineup.”
On what he wants to see with Frolov-Drury-Gaborik:
“Score a goal. Yeah. I say that, really, seriously. I hope he regains his confidence a little bit offensively. That’s a line that’s still trying to find its way with Erik there. It hasn’t really sustained as much offense as, really, Anisimov and Stepan’s line. I’m just hoping … you never know. No one expects Dru to be playing as the top center, I think, around here. I want to give him a chance so hopefully he can regain somc confidence that way and something good (will) happen for him.
“I’m not messing around with the other two lines. They’ve played too well, and I’m not going to. There’s other things I could do as far as getting Dru in. But I talked to him over the summer and he was hard on himself at the end of the year as far as contributions offensively. He wants to do more. I want to give him an opportunity to see if he can regain some confidence and you never know. You never know what happens with those two guys (Frolov and Gaborik).”
On trying to win the fans over on Opening Night:
“Oh, I haven’t even thought about that. We’re just concentrating on trying to play and trying to get on the attack right away, whether we’re home or away, we’re trying to build an identity: consistently attack, not counter — trying to inflict and pressure. I think for the first two games we did a lot of that. But now you’ve got to do it consistently. It’s just staying simple. Whether it’s home or away we’re trying to stay with our game and be consistent with it.”
On skipping the morning skates at home (Tortorella’s not afraid to break traditions):
“We felt it’s one of the most overrated things in hockey. We felt we were a much better hockey club last year when we started, and I have stats on it. I’m not sure when we started in January of last year, of not bringing them in. The guys from the city, it’s really a three-hour ordeal of a day to come in (to Greenburgh) for maybe a 15-minute meeting that we can do in the evening, and really skate for really no reason other than routine, because that’s what everybody does. So no, we felt we were a much fresher team, and we feel it will pay dividends in the big picture of the long season, especially in the landscape of what our guys in the city have to do to get to our practice arena and back.”
On talking about needing to have a good start in home games:
“I can’t tell you what we said, but it was shorter than I thought in yesterday’s meeting, prior to beginning our home schedule. I went off of how the players felt. This was a subject I brought up to them with two separate letters this summer, and they were prepared and they took over the meeting.
“(The letters were about) playing in the building and playing at home.”
On what he’s looking for from Gilroy:
“He’s had a good camp and I’m looking for him to defend as hard as he possibly can. It’s been a point of contention for us, in not allowing people to come out of corners and mirror people vs. when he has an opportunity to close out. We’re always looking for that from Gilly. And we want him up the ice. That’s one of his strengths. His skating is one of his strengths and we want him up the ice when we have an opportunity, when we have the puck. Again, just his overall play. I really think he took to heart in our meetings last year, especially at the end of the year, and did some work during the summer. I think he has a different mindset. But it needs to translate on the ice consistently. Maybe as we go through, that 5 and 6 (defense) position, we’ll figure what we’re going to do there in a consistent manner.”
A Toronto writer asked him about Ron Wilson’s work with a younger group:
“I have no idea. I’m worried about my team.”
Asked if he is a fan of former KISS legend Ace Frehley, who will play before the game:
“Who? … I don’t even know who the hell he is.”