Morning Skate: Who's In, Who's Out?

The Rangers will look to snap their four-game slide tonight at Madison Square Garden when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. As for which players will be wearing the Blueshirt, it's not entirely certain what the Rangers lineup will be this evening.

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh did confirm that he is healthy and ready to play tonight after taking part in the morning skate, one day after returning to practice on Wednesday. McDonagh had missed one game to recuperate from a nasty hit into the glass he absorbed in the second period of Saturday's loss up in Montreal.

As for Rick Nash and Michael Del Zotto, there is no definitive word either way on their status. While Nash seemed fairly confident he could play tonight, he said a decision will not be made until later today. He has missed four straight games. And Del Zotto, who also took part in the morning skate, was unavailable for comment this morning. Yesterday he had said that he has been feeling better each day since suffering a hip injury a week ago in Ottawa.

The Rangers will play once again without Arron Asham, who will sit for a fourth consecuitve game tonight due to a sore back. And Matt Gilroy, who has appeared in 12 straight games could very well likely miss this evening's tilt with the Lightning after skipping the morning skate as he battles the flu.

If Gilroy can not play, Steve Eminger would step in. Eminger played nearly 21 minutes and contributed an assist---his first point of the season---Tuesday night against Winnipeg. Fellow defenseman Stu Bickel wore a blue forwards jersey at the skate and could fill in for Asham now that Brandon Mashinter has been reassigned to the Connecticut Whale. Should that be the case, Chris Kreider---who was the last skater off the ice this morning---would be a healthy scratch (assuming Nash is also in the lineup).

The Rangers are 0-3-1 in their last four games, while the Lightning have lost two straight and are 1-3-0 in their previous four contests. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to make his 16th start of the season in goal tonight for New York.


Lightning Head coach Guy Boucher met with reporters following the team's morning skate at MSG, and said the biggest adjustment for his club would be to try and contain Nash, who has missed four straight games and is a game-time decision for tonight.

"Is Nash playing," Boucher asked, "Because he sort of beat us one-on-one a few times. He's just very difficult to handle one-on-one...if he's playing tonight, he's going to be a handful again, I'm sure."

Boucher said Mathieu Garon will make the start for Tampa, and that both Ryan Malone and Sami Salo will not play due to injuries.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos said he was hopeful his friend Del Zotto would be healthy enough to play.

"We texted yesterday and he said he's hopeful for tonight," Stamkos said after the skate. The two grew up playing together and eventually were drafted No. 1 and 2 overall in the Ontario Hockey League draft.

"It's always a fun challenge and always bragging rights in the summer" are on the line, he said with a laugh. "Defnitely hopeful he's playing tonight."

As we get closer to game time what are your thoughts, concerns and predictions for tonight's game? Share them all below.