Coyotes-Rangers Preview

Just when the New York Rangers felt they were finally getting

healthy, Ryan Callahan was lost for six weeks. A pair of impressive

victories may be proof that they can replace his production.

The Rangers begin their long stretch without Callahan when they

face the Phoenix Coyotes at Madison Square Garden on Thursday

night.

New York (19-13-1) has lost 98 man-games to injury this season,

including various ailments to Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury, Henrik

Lundqvist, Michal Rozsival and Vinny Prospal – who is still

recovering from offseason knee surgery.

While Drury returned to the lineup Wednesday from a broken

finger that has sidelined him for all but two games, Callahan is

now out with a broken left hand, leaving the Rangers without their

second-leading scorer with 23 points. He’s scheduled to undergo

further evaluation in New York on Thursday.

“I’m not going to sit here and pretend. That’s a big loss to us

in Callahan,” coach John Tortorella said. “I felt it right away as

a coach on the bench as far as the situations that we use him

in.

“We’ll do it the right way. They’ve handled these situations and

they had experience and we’ll get through this.”

The Rangers lost Callahan early in the first period Wednesday,

and showed they can overcome his absence by scoring four goals in a

span of 6:19 of the third to rally for a 4-1 win at NHL-leading

Pittsburgh.

The performance came three nights after New York beat Washington

7-0 behind six different goal scorers, with Callahan netting

two.

Consistent scoring from Gaborik would help. The star right wing

had an assist against the Penguins, but has one goal in six games

since netting a hat trick in a 6-5 win over the New York Islanders

on Dec. 2.

Gaborik’s production could be in for a jolt. He’s scored 11

goals in his last 10 meetings with the Coyotes (14-9-6), including

two goals and one assist in a 5-2 win during the most recent

matchup at MSG on Oct. 26, 2009.

He also scored in a 3-2 loss at Phoenix on Jan. 30, as the teams

split the season series.

Lundqvist will likely be in net again after making 27 stops

Wednesday following a 31-save shutout against the Capitals. He has

a 2.00 goals-against average while winning all three of his starts

against the Coyotes.

The Rangers have won 11 of their last 13 home games versus the

Coyotes franchise.

Phoenix is 1-4-4 against Eastern Conference opponents after

falling 3-0 at New Jersey on Wednesday to open this six-game road

trip, which begins with four against East clubs.

“We’re a team that if we don’t play all out, all the time, we’re

not going to be successful,” coach Dave Tippett told the Coyotes’

official website.

Despite Wednesday’s loss, Ilya Bryzgalov has won four of six on

the road with a 1.82 GAA, and will likely start a sixth consecutive

game. He’s lost his last two visits to the Garden with a 4.83 GAA,

however, getting pulled from the last meeting there after allowing

four goals on 11 shots.

Backup Jason LaBarbera, a member of the Rangers’ organization

from 1998-2005, is 2-0-1 with a 2.23 GAA in four games against his

former club. He’s won his last two starts – both on the road – with

a 1.50 GAA.