The New York Rangers were back at it today in practice after their brief two-day holiday break. Following the skate, head coach John Tortorella spoke to the media about tomorrow's lineup against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. First and foremost, Andrew Gross reports that Mats Zuccarello will be recalled for tomorrow's tilt and that was confirmed by Torts himself. "Zuke", as he is being called, was returned to Connecticut (AHL) on Thursday only so he could play in the Whale's game this evening, but will be back with the Blueshirts on Monday.
Tortorella had nothing but good things to say about Zuccarello after Thursday's performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He especially liked the way he skated alongside Derek Stepan and Brandon Dubinsky, so don't be surprised to see him back with those two against the Isles. Personally, I would leave them as the first line and, although Gaborik has been great when facing the Isles, make Gabby's trio the second line. There are no rules saying that your best player must be on the first line. And even if there is some unwritten standard, Gaborik has not been the Rangers' best player this season by any stretch.
Speaking of Gabby, he took part in practice today for the first time since his "groin soreness". Gross says that Tortorella seemed pretty confident that Gabby would be ready for tomorrow, but Marian himself did not sound as hopeful. What do I say to that? If he doesn't want to play, then don't force him.
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto has recovered from his flu bug, but will be a healthy scratch versus the Islanders. Tors said that he intends on sending a message to Del Zotto by sitting the 20-year-old like this. I am all for it because Michael has been atrocious for most of the season. He needs to regroup, and while he does that, Matt Gilroy has been doing just fine as his replacement.