The New York Rangers held practice earlier today at their practice facility following last night's 4-3 overtime win against the Islanders, and according to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants, neither captain Ryan Callahan (bruised foot) nor defenseman Michael Del Zotto (hip) participated. Neither suited up for Sunday's tilt with the Isles, either, so it's looking like they will be unavailable for tomorrow's match-up with the Carolina Hurricanes as well.
I may get jumped on for this one, but is it safe to say that the team has missed Del Zotto on defense yet? I know the in-depth statistics prove that DZ has not been perfect on the defensive side of the puck this year, but he's had an impact on the team when in the lineup. This is his most consistent season of his career in terms of his performance in all three zones. In my opinion, that's a big hole that the Blueshirts cannot and will not fill until he returns.
Meanwhile, on offense, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards have been reunited on a line for the first time since the beginning of the season. They showed some signs of chemistry in yesterday's win, which coach Tortorella spoke about today with the media....
“I think they’ve been a little more creative with one another. I think a big part of that is I think Richie is beginning to see the ice better. This all started where I’d put them with Hags or maybe Cally after some penalty killing where they haven’t been on the ice because I really haven’t used killing penalties this year. You can just see little by little they’ve found one another. You never know. Like I told you guys when we broke them up right away, it didn’t look good at all but you never know when it may happen. With Step, Artie and Gabby, it’s been a little bit inconsistent of late, so we’ve tried this and I thought they played really well together last night in the second half of that game. So you never know, it comes and goes.”
But imagine if the chemistry between Gaborik and Richards comes and stays. Now you're talking about a serious offensive threat going into the playoffs that teams will not be prepared to defend since they've never faced it before.
See, sometimes there is more to John Tortorella's strategies than you think.