It’s still tough for me getting used to the idea that these are conference games now.
The Rangers are 4-1-2 after their back-to-back home shootout losses (to Winnipeg and St. Louis). They have won only three of seven at home (3-2-2).
Mats Zuccarello (groin) and Kevin Klein (foot) are expected to return tonight, and I would not be shocked if Derek Stepan (broken leg) talks Alain Vigneault into letting him play tonight. Stepan is going to play by Saturday anyway, and he had a full contact practice this morning, and worked on physical drills with Ryan Malone afterwards. If he is feeling OK after that, I’m sure Stepan wants to play, though Vigneault vowed to use caution with his No. 1 center.
Zuccarello replaces Malone, who went through waivers Monday and is probably headed to an assignment to Hartford (AHL), for which he may not report. Klein is in for Dylan McIlrath, who was assigned to the Wolf Pack this afternoon.
The Rangers are still without Dan Boyle (broken hand) who probably will return some time next week; John Moore, who serves the third of his five-game suspension and will be eligible to play Tuesday against Pittsburgh; and of course Ryan McDonagh (separated shoulder) who is out 3-4 weeks.
Henrik Lundqvist is back in goal after getting a breather while Cam Talbot played against St. Louis on Monday.
Vigneault becomes the seventh active coach to coach his 900th game tonight. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk is two points away from tying Ilya Kovalchuk (816) for sixth on the all-time Russian-born NHL players list. Alex Ovechkin is fifth at 827.
After the game, vote for the Three Rangers Stars in the poll on the left.