The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins will take to the ice tonight for the last time before the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will be out for six weeks after suffering a stroke as reported earlier. With that and the imminent Olympic break, you could forgive these teams for not wanting to give their all. However, Rob Scuderi of the Penguins doesn't see it that way:
"The Rangers have been playing strong recently, been scoring a lot, [Henrik] Lundqvist has been standing on his head a few times, and it's a divisional rivalry," Scuderi said after an optional practice Thursday. "So I think that there'll be more than enough motivation for us to play."
The Rangers have indeed been playing well, winning four of their last five and rising to second place just below the Penguins in their division. However they will be hoping that captain Ryan Callahan comes through tonight's game and the Olympics in Sochi without injury. Callahan is a free agent in the summer although the Rangers intend to trade him before then.
Coach, Alain Vigeneault wants his Rangers team ready to play tonight without thought to the break ahead:
"Tomorrow we're playing against the best in our conference," Vigneault said. "We're going to have to be real good. … We've got one more game to play here, and I'm hoping that everybody's going to be ready to play this last game here."