Maintenance days are a favorite of John Tortorella, and he had a whole week of them for most every player on his team. That means you can expect a healthy squad to take on the Devils tonight. The Rangers are still clinging to their Atlantic Division lead, although a few teams are close behind -- New Jersey being one of them.
That makes tonight's tilt even more important, regardless of the rivalry. Hopefully Gaborik, who notched three goals in the All-Star Game, can continue his hot streak and bring his game back into the regular season. Obviously the difference between the no-defense, no-hitting All-Star Game and a fierce regular season rivalry is significant; but Gaborik should still be a confidence hockey player going into the game.
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The rest should also have been good for guys like Henrik Lundqvist (even though he played in the All-Star Game), Brad Richards, Ryan McDonagh and even Michael Sauer. All of those players could really use the week off, and all of them got it at a crucial point in the season.
The Rangers' power play has had a week off, and the coaching staff almost assuredly worked on some of the kinks during the break. Hopefully we see an improved unit on the ice tonight. The rest should at least help in that regard.
The Rangers are coming off a 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets from a week ago today, and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Another win tonight will help the Rangers strengthen their strangle hold on the Atlantic Division.