The Rangers face an odd conundrum.
Perhaps no team has experienced a more positive surprise of a first half. But is there another team that could use the off days that the All-Star Break provides more than the Rangers?
The Rangers will conclude the first half with tonight’s game in Washington and Tuesday night against the Panthers at the Garden. Because of injuries suffered by Dan Girardi and Brandon Prust in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Thrashers in Atlanta, Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev were called up from AHL Connecticut.
One of the themes to the Rangers first half has been the myriad of injuries that has plagued the team. The Rangers have lost 177 man games due to injuries. Vinny Prospal has not played a game this season as he is recovering from knee surgery. Derek Boogaard’s season may be over after suffering a concussion in a fight with Ottawa’s Matt Carkner. Ryan Callahan broke a hand blocking a shot against the Penguins. The organization believes he will return after the All-Star Break. Alex Frolov was lost for the season with a torn ACL and MCL and a sprained meniscus in his right knee against St. Louis. Erik Christensen sprained his right knee against the Devils on December 29 and has not played since. Ruslan Fedotenko separated his shoulder in last Wednesday’s 7-0 MSG win over Toronto. Brandon Dubinsky will miss three-to-four weeks with a stress fracture in his left fibula.
Even with the injuries, the Rangers have “found a way to win” as John Tortorella has preached throughout the season. They enter tonight’s game with 59 points and a record of 28-19-3. Much of the success has been attributed to the single-minded mentality that has permeated the room.
“Everybody contributed,” Tortorella said after the win over the Leafs.
Still, the coach wouldn’t mind more production from his most dangerous offensive player, Marian Gaborik. Gaborik has scored 15 goals in 36 games this season. Ten of his goals came in three games against Toronto, Edmonton (a hat trick on November 14) and the Islanders (a hat trick on the Island on December 2).
Tortorella told reporters, “Obviously Gabby getting on track here, hopefully will help his confidence,” after Wednesday’s rout of moribund the moribund Leafs, in which Gaborik scored four goals and finished with five points.
“It feels good, especially after you get the first one. It was a big relief to get the monkey off my back and it kept rolling,” added Gaborik.