The Rangers take the ice against the Sabres in Buffalo tonight. With 96 points Buffalo is the most talented team they’ve played in a little while so it will be an important game in the sense that we get to see if the recent success of the team, they’re 5-0-1 in their last six games, is a product of them finally playing better or just playing weaker opponents.
The Rangers are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference as the standings are right now with 82 points. That’s just two points behind the eighth place Philadelphia Flyers who have 84 points and one point ahead of the 10th place Atlanta Thrashers who have 81 points. The Rangers have a game in hand on both teams though.
The Flyers are the team to keep an eye on as they have just three games remaining to play and two of those are against the Rangers. Unfortunately for the Rangers the other team the Flyers are playing are the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs who are currently holding down last place in the East. The Rangers get their chance against the Leafs too, but they lost to them in overtime just a week ago.
There is good news for the Rangers though. Ryan Callahan , who has missed the last few games due to a sore right knee, skated yesterday and this morning with the team. It sounds like it could be a last minute decision, but there is a chance he could play tonight against Buffalo. Brian Boyle has also been skating, but it seems less likely that he will get into tonight’s game.
For what it’s worth, John Tortorella said that Callahan will play tonight if he is capable. I assumed that as one of the best players on the team one could just assume that without Tortorella having to point it out, but it is nice to hear. You have to imagine that if Callahan does skate it could mean that recent call-up Dale Weise becomes a healthy scratch although that is certainly not official yet.
Sean Avery did not skate today and is not expected to play tonight and you can assume he probably won’t play tomorrow either. Best case scenario is he plays against Philly, but it’s still too early to say that even.
You can also expect Henrik Lundqvist to start in net tonight. He’s made 13 consecutive starts missing only one game since the Olympics and has played in 21 out of 22 overall. At this point he’s probably desperate for a rest, but with the Rangers playoff hopes literally hinging on every game you can expect him to rest in the offseason.
Here is video of Tortorella talking about the upcoming game and the Sabres: