First the minor news, quotes to follow:
Rangers are down to 12 forwards with Boogaard playing sick, so everybody’s in up front, and Gilroy is prucha’d on defense.
Gaborik continues to make progress. He thinks he may play by Sunday. Some speculation about Thursday. Tortorella said he’s not sure about either, but he’s getting close as he goes through contact practices.
Prospal is on target for mid-to-late December return.
Back in a bit.
“I do (worry about how he handles being scratched) but also, there has to be a point in time, I think, that you need to go with the lineup that you think is the best lineup. And right now that is our best six.
“Again, Gilly has improved on all the things we asked him to do over the summer, but we still feel right now, that is our best six.”
On Stepan, playing with Fedotenko:
“I thought Step, when I put him in in the third period (vs. St. Louis) he was involved in two scoring chances in a game that didn’t have many scoring chances at all. I thought he played well. You’re going to see him there and I’m gonna maybe bounce him into some penalty killing also. It’s part of the process for him. He hasn’t gotten a lot of minutes … I think he deserves another whack at it because some other guys just simply haven’t come through.
On how he’s responded to everything:
“He’s been terrific. His mental maturity is one of his biggest assets right now as a 20-year-old.”
On him having told Larry Brooks what has been missing in his game is his “edge.”
“Yes. Again, we don’t want to turn him into a guy who’s running people over all game. But I think a player gets more involved, gets around the puck more, when he has that type of mindset. You can see he’s tried to finish checks, tried to be around the puck more. That was the conversation I had with him when we moved him out, is that he wasn’t playing hard enough. He just wasn’t playing hard enough. And he will tonight. I think he did a really good job when I put him in there in the third period the other night.”
“Not enough. He played two or three good games, and then he falls off. I couldn’t find him the last game. We’re trying with him. We’re trying like hell with him to have him understand the consistency of it all, because we need his skill. We talk about it all the time. He’s a very skilled guy. But he’s got to grab ahold of it in a more consistent way or we’re going to try other people. That’s what we’ll do tonight. Erik will play and we’ll see where he goes with it.”
On whether it’s tougher to play as a finesse player than a mucker, for example, like Prust.
“No, I don’t think it’s tougher. No matter what type of player you are, it’s mental. With Erik it’s a mental thing as far as feeling good enough about yourself to do it every gam and this is why Erik has bounced around. He’s a great kid. The guys like him, I like him. He’s very likeable. There has to be consistency. Or at least, you’re not always going to be dead-on your game, but you can’t be here or there. There has to be some sort of flat line with this here, where if you do struggle, it’s not dropping. It’s not being able to find you. That’s what happens. So we’re hoping to get him out of it. We’re not trying to run him out of here. We’re trying to help him. But sometimes a player has to help himself, and we’re hoping we push him in the right direction here to have him help himself.”
“I haven’t talked to Gabby today. Practiced, contact, yesterday although we didn’t have much. I heard he talked to some guys today that he’s looking at Sunday. I haven’t talked to him. He’ll practice tomorrow with even more contact and we’ll see where we go from there.
“He’s close. He’s very close. But we’ll go through another practice tomorrow and see where we’re at.”
“We’re looking at mid-to-late December. That’s the timeframe. He’s doing all the things he needs to do. I talked to (Jim Ramsay) yesterday about that.”
“He hasn’t gotten on the ice yet. He’s there every morning, and it’s taking some time. (not close to getting on the ice yet).”
On the team’s ups and downs.
“I think our team has been more consistent this year, period, in how we’re approaching and what we’re trying to do as a team. But early on, when we lost those three or four games, we beat ourselves with some penalties. We continue to try to stay within ourselves and continue to work on how we have to play. I think we’ve been more consistent this year than last year, but it’s still early.”