The New York Rangers are coming off their first win of the preseason last night, against the Ottawa Senators. Tonight's matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum will be the second of four games in four nights and five games in six nights.
This will be a preview of an opening-day matchup, as the two teams will battle each other on October 4 and 5 when the NHL comes to Prague, Czech Republic. The Rangers are playing with a split squad of sorts for tonight, as half the team remained in the New York area to prepare for tomorrow's game against the Devils.
Tonight, two Rangers—Andreas Jamtin and Hugh Jessiman—will make their preseason debuts, as Brandon Dubinsky and Aaron Vorors will be given the night off for the first time. Colton Orr will remain in for the third-straight game.
Jessiman, a first-round draft pick, is still trying to prove that he is not the biggest draft bust in Rangers history. Jamtin, on the other hand, has been called the Swedish version of Sean Avery, as he has the ability to both play the game well and agitate opponents.
Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, the first-overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry draft, is slated to play tonight as well, after coming off his preseason debut in which he scored the game-winning shootout goal. Ranger fans will get a look at the young gun they will have to face four times this season.
Tampa Bay's Projected Lineup
L1. Prospal-Jokinen-St. Louis
New York's Projected Lineup
D2. Kalinin-Del Zotto
Tampa Bay is going with virtually their opening-day lineup, while the Rangers are playing with only ten guaranteed regulars. The Rangers' split squad held up well against Ottawa in the first game when the Senators played their full lineup, so it will be interesting to see how tonight goes.
Valiquette must rebound after his last performance, and Wiikman must build on his solid effort last outing. Also, look for some cuts to be made after tonight, even if it's only a couple.