NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 7th (All times Eastern)
NY Islanders (4-4-1) at NY Rangers (4-5-0), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - It's not unusual for New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella to have harsh words for his club after a loss.
But with Tortorella threatening some jobs after the latest setback, the Blueshirts will look to respond on Thursday night and keep their home winning streak over the New York Islanders intact in the first of four meetings this season between the rival clubs.
The Rangers had won four of six prior to Tuesday's road game with the New Jersey Devils, but suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the club that knocked them out of the Eastern Conference finals last season.
Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves as the Blueshirts yielded two goals in the first and another early in the third before Chris Kreider got his team on the board with his first NHL regular-season tally.
The 21-year-old was appearing in his fourth game this season and for the first time since missing five straight due to a chipped bone in his ankle. The former first-round pick did score five goals in 18 playoff games a season ago in his first taste of NHL action.
New York debuted another top prospect versus the Devils in J.T. Miller, the 15th overall pick of the 2011 draft. The center had two shots in 14 minutes of action for a Rangers team that went 0-for-5 on the power play and was without captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi due to injury.
"They are going to probably take some people's jobs. Because I'll tell you with our hockey club right now, we have some guys that are really playing hard and we've got some guys that look scared and tentative," Tortorella remarked.
"Very happy with Kreider. I thought he played well. I thought Miller was hard on the puck and did some really good things. We'll see where we go with our lineup, but I'll tell you right now, I'm not waiting."
One option for Tortorella might be made for him if Callahan can return from injury on Thursday. He has missed the past three games due to an injured left shoulder suffered versus the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 29. He was slated to miss 10-to-14 days of action and practiced with contact on Wednesday.
Callahan put himself day-to-day afterwards, while it is unknown if Girardi, who according to the club is "banged up," will be able to return.
The Rangers may be able to afford to rest the defenseman given they have won seven straight at home versus the Islanders, who haven't won at Madison Square Garden since Dec. 26, 2009.
The Blueshirts went 4-1-1 in this series last season and have won 10 of the past 14 encounters overall.
The Islanders come into this meeting having lost two straight and four of six, most recently a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Michael Grabner and Brad Boyes scored in a 35-second span early in the third period for the Islanders, who could not come up with equalizer before the Pens capped the scoring with an empty-net tally.
The Isles did themselves no favors by going 0-for-7 on the power play.
"We have to get shots on the net," Islanders captain Mark Streit said. "We need to get the rebound first. I think we can improve. We had a lot of chances and (Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre) Fleury made some good saves, you have to give him credit, but at the end of the day we need to score on the power play. We have five great players on the ice and we just need to do better."
Evgeni Nabokov allowed three goals on 25 shots in defeat.
02/07 10:30:28 ET