When the Rangers face-off with the Minnesota Wild tonight at the Xcel Energy Center Henrik Lundqvist will once again be the starting goalie, making his sixth consecutive start. In addition veteran defenseman Anton Stralman returns to the lineup, replacing rookie Tim Erixon.
Tonight will mark only the second time this season that Lundqvist has started six games in a row. He played in the first six games of the regular season before Martin Biron made his first start, in Winnipeg, on October 24th. This current string of starts comes on the heels of Lundqvist missing two straight games on March 13th and 15th due to the flu.
Prior to Saturday's game in Toronto, Rangers head coach John Tortorella discussed the importance of getting Lundqvist into a "flow" with the playoffs right around the corner. This morning Tortorella would say only that "Lundqvist is starting", and left it at that.
As for Stralman, the Swedish defenseman is back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last five games. He replaces his fellow Swede, Erixon, who did record the first two points of his NHL career in the five games he played after being recalled from the Connecticut Whale.
"I want to put (Stalman) back in...I want to see him with these (defense) pairs," Tortorella explained after the morning skate. "I think he has the ability to help us offensively; I think he has really improved defensively; it's competing all the time (where he needs to improve). Since the first time I met him I think he has been a much better player. We just need to see it consistently."
Stralman did not disagree with his coach's assessment this morning, admitting that he has not been happy with his play of late.
"I get frustrated because I think I have it one game, feeling good about things, and then something goes wrong and I just lose it," explained Stralman, who has two goals and 16 points in 46 games this season. "I am obviously excited to be back (in the lineup), and I just want to give it a good shot here."
One of the issues with his game, Stralman believes, is that he has focused so much on improving his defensive game that he has let his offensive game slip, and the offensive side of the puck has always been his stronger suit.
"I have been an all-out offensive guy for years (in the NHL)," Stralman said. "Now trying to find the balance of playing really solid defense first and then do the same things offensively, it takes some time to learn. And I obviously still have a lot to learn."
Share your thoughts below on Stralman's return to the lineup, and Lundqvist's string of consecutive starts in goal.