Monday, October 7, 2013

Captain Callahan Returns Tonight For Rangers vs. Kings

The Rangers continue their west coast trip to start the season against the Los Angeles Kings later tonight at 10:30 p.m. E.T.  Alain Vigneault confirmed over the weekend that Ryan Callahan will make his season debut tonight in place of J.T. Miller, who was optioned down to Hartford over the weekend (and went on to record two goals and an assist in his first game after being sent down, by the way).

Vigneault also confirmed that Arron Asham will make his season debut after being a healthy scratch in the first game of the season last Thursday. Asham will skate on the fourth line with Derek Dorsett and Dominic Moore tonight, making Jesper Fast a healthy scratch.

Here are the projected lines for tonight's game:

Brad Richards-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Taylor Pyatt-Brian Boyle-Ryan Callahan
Derek Dorsett-Dominic Moore-Arron Asham

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto
John Moore-Anton Stralman

Henrik Lundqvist
Marty Biron

Healthy Scratches: Justin Falk, Jesper Fast

Even though Callahan is projected to open the game on the third line, you can bet that he'll be moved into the top six group of forwards as the game progresses as long as he's feeling OK and his conditioning level isn't an issue. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Brad Richards wind up skating back at his original position at center at some point in this game, as he didn't look very comfortable playing the left wing last week.

After a lackluster performance in their season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes, getting their team captain back can only provide a spark for the Rangers tonight. It almost sounds silly to say that after only one game so far this season, but we've seen in the past that this team just seems to play better and have a better sense of its identity when they follow the lead of Ryan Callahan's play. He'll also undoubtedly provide a lift to both the penalty killing unit (which looked dreadful against Phoenix) and the power play.

Aside from that, there isn't much more to report. Henrik Lundqvist will, of course, be back in goal tonight and may even start tomorrow night in Anaheim, as well, depending on the outcome of tonight's game.