Update: One of the lineup moves for the defeated is scratching overpaid, underperforming Wade Redden, and my god does his reaction tell you everything you need to know about how absolutely out of touch he is about his performance as a Ranger:
"Redden was not shy in expressing his opinion that he was being made a scapegoat for the Blueshirts’ miserable string of games that included Wednesday’s 2-1 Garden defeat to the Islanders.
“I’m not pleased to be singled out,” said Redden, scratched for what is believed the first time in his 13-year NHL career. “We’re going through struggles as a team and the fact that I’m sitting out, I’m not real happy."
The sorry thing about tonight's tail end of back-to-backs is the Islanders have (real, but not justified) reason to relax after taking the opener, while the Rangers have absolutely no excuse if they don't come out like it's a Game 7. The Rangers are in a tailspin, and nothing would cap off "rock bottom" of such a spin like being meekly swept by the Islanders.
If the Smurfs don't come out like a bat out of hell (Query: Who, actually, has seen a bat fly out of hell to know that it is worthy of the phrase?), they are essentially conceding that there's no hope for them until someone blows up the roster or fires the decision-makers. (Heh.) That would be a justified concession, actually, but it's not one that professional competitive players typically like to make, regardless of what the Garden fans tell them.
Lots of unknowns as of this mid-day posting: Does Martin Biron get his turn? Will the Rangers' biggest change be the one they can least afford -- debuting Chad Johnson in place of Henrik Lundqvist, the one part of their team who isn't broken? [Update: No. Lundqvist goes back in, while Redden and Kotalik sit.]
Suffice it to say, despite on-ice evidence to the contrary the meme that only one team considers this a rivalry is, well, not backed up by evidence. Quoth Marc Staal:
"The Islanders are a huge rival for us," defenseman Mark Staal said. "For us to come out the way we did in the first period was embarrassing."
This pre-game is somewhat formulaic -- all too rare that we have back-to-backs with the same team. So discuss what you will here, or in last night's recap, or in the post-game presser post of Tortorella's (rather calm) tirade. And we'll see you around the bend.