Friday, March 2, 2012

Rangers vs. Lightning Tonight; Del Zotto and Callahan Out

The Rangers face the Lightning tonight at 7:30 and will be without both Michael Del Zotto and Ryan Callahan. Callahan is still nursing a bruised foot (although the good news is that x-rays came back negative) and Del Zotto re-injured his hip in last night's game against the Hurricanes. According to MSG Network's John Giannone, Jeff Woywitka is expected to fill Del Zotto's void in the lineup, which will mark the first time that Woywitka is playing in an NHL game since Dec. 30.

The fact that Jeff Woywitka is in over Steve Eminger is very, very telling about Eminger's place with the team. He's been pretty brutal since returning from a separated shoulder, but it's still a surprise that John Tortorella would choose to go with a guy who hasn't played in an NHL game in over two months.

Henrik Lundqvist is back in goal tonight, and he's also celebrating his 30th birthday. So, happy birthday to the King. I'm sure the best present would be to get a win tonight and extend the Rangers' current four-game winning streak.

Two guys I'll specifically have my eyes on tonight are Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal. Staal is coming off what was maybe his best game of the season last night, and I'm sure he'll be asked to play over 20 minutes with Del Zotto hurt. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Staal finishes with a season-high in ice time. Dubinsky, on the other hand, played just five minutes and change last night and was benched for the entire final two periods after taking what John Tortorella correctly called a "stupid" penalty. I think Torts will trust Dubi with more ice time tonight since he'll be fresh while guys like Boyle, Prust and Fedotenko may be somewhat sluggish after picking up extra minutes with Dubinsky's benching last night. But if Dubi takes another bad penalty, then look out.

Coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. on MSG, while the game starts at 7:30.

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