Saturday, January 19, 2013

Time To Drop The Puck: Rangers vs. Bruins Tonight At 7:00

Finally! Finally it's time to drop the puck!

Every team in the NHL is in action today beginning at 3 p.m., with the Flyers and Penguins getting things started on NBC. With a total of 13 games on tap for today, hockey fans won't have any trouble finding something to watch the rest of the day.

The Rangers, who will open their season in Boston against the Bruins at 7:00, will roll with these lines tonight:

Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Marian Gaborik-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Taylor Pyatt-Brian Boyle-Chris Kreider
Mike Rupp-Jeff Halpern-Brandon Segal

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto-Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Scratches: D Matt Gilroy, D Steve Eminger, RW Aaron Asham (Suspension)

I previously thought John Tortorella might move Stu Bickel up to play right wing on the fourth line since he had experience playing some forward last year, but he will instead go with AHL veteran Brandon Segal. Segal was recalled from Hartford a few days ago and it's unclear how long he'll remain on the roster with Aaron Asham presumably rejoining the lineup tomorrow. Segal, who will wear Artem Anisimov's old No. 42, has posted 9 G, 7 A, 16 PTS, 60 PIM in 38 games with the Whale this season.

My top five things to watch for tonight:

1. Rick Nash, obviously. Nash will be making his Rangers debut tonight and was probably the biggest offseason acquisition any team made last year.

2. Marian Gaborik shifting to the left wing. Gaborik is a lefty shot but has primarily been a right winger his entire career with the exception of playing some left wing in the Olympics. It may not seem like much of an adjustment, but it's worth keeping an eye on to see how comfortable he looks out there, particularly while getting back on defense.

3. Henrik Lundqvist. The King did not play overseas during the lockout, so he has not played in a meaningful hockey game since last year's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils. He might be a bit rusty at the start, but hopefully it wears off relatively quickly.

4. Brad Richards. Richards missed the first four days of practice this week because he was sick with the flu so he's had less time to get acclimated to his new linemates than anyone else. Richards played a lot with Carl Hagelin last year and Rick Nash is one of the best players in the league, though, so I'm not too worried about any chemistry issues.

5. Fatigue. Torts expressed concern during the week about how the compacted schedule will impact the team. I'm not sure if everybody on the roster is conditioned appropriately the way Tortorella would like them to be, but we'll find out come the later stages of the game in the second and third periods.

That'll about do it. Enjoy the game everybody, and let's go Rangers!