The New York Rangers have 12 games left in their season and are coming off a game that had major Eastern Conference implications, one they lost 5-2 to the hard-charging Pittsburgh Penguins. Now just four points up in the standings (with one more game played) and with how important the No. 1 seed is, the playoff-type games have already begun for the Blueshirts.
Saturday night, the banged-up Rangers host the Colorado Avalanche at 7:00 p.m. EST (MSG). The good news is that captain Ryan Callahan will return to the lineup tonight after missing the past three with a bruised foot. Henrik Lundqvist also will be back after getting over the flu. Michael Del Zotto also appears ready to come back after missing the last few games with a hip pointer. New York has recalled hot-shot prospect Tim Erixon from the AHL, and he will be inserted in the lineup tonight, with Jeff Woywitka and Anton Stralman being scratched. Of course, the Rangers are also without Artem Anisimov, whom coach Tortorella described as being "injured" at practice yesterday and appears to have hurt his shoulder.
The Rangers have found a lethal first line with Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik filling up the scoresheet the past few games. What they do need is other lines to step up. The No. 1 line has been a force, but you're just not going to survive with one line doing everything.
Colorado (81 points), meanwhile, is hanging on to the eighth spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche are a young bunch that doesn't score a tremendous amount and gives up the 12th most goals in the league. They recently fell to the New Jersey Devils but had won three straight (two in overtime, one in shootout) prior to that. Colorado is led by the trio of Ryan O'Reilly (52 points), Paul Stastny (46 points) and Gabriel Landeskog, a rookie of the year contender, (with 20 goals and 46 points).