The New York Rangers will face-off vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Madison Square Garden in the teams' second meeting in eight days. The Blueshirts won the first matchup 3-2 in Tampa Bay, and this will be the first of two matchups at the Garden between the two teams.
The Rangers come into the game 5-5-0 (10 points) and currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference. They are 4-1 in their last five games at home though. The Lightning currently sit first in their division and are 6-4-0 (12 points). They've lost their last three contests.
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi hinted that he'd be returning to the lineup tonight, and that was confirmed today on the team's twitter account.
New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 10, 2013
The Rangers went 1-1 without Girardi, falling to the New Jersey Devils and beating the New York Islanders. He's averaging a rigorous 24:55 ice time per game and is a vital part of their defense.
He was "banged up," enough so to miss the two games, bringing him to a total of four over the past five years.
With Girardi's return, the Rangers will be at a full roster as they look to go above .500 for the first time all year. Chris Krieder and Ryan Callahan both recently returned to action giving New York a full squad.
It still isn't sure who the odd man out will be in the Rangers' lineup. Rookie J.T. Miller is making a case that he belongs on the roster and Brian Boyle was a healthy scratch in the teams' last game. It isn't clear if Boyle will return, and if he does who will sit.
On the defensive end, it still isn't clear which two out of Stu Bickel, Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy will ride the bench with Girardi returning.
Whoever is in needs to focus on stopping Tampa's high powered offense, namely Steven Stamkos, who scored both Lightning goals the last time these two met.
Sources say Mathieu Garon will start in net once again for Tampa, while New York will go with Henrik Lundqvist, who sat the last time these two teams played. Lundqvist has posted a 14-7-6 record vs. the Lightning.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. ET as the Rangers look to start a winning streak.
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