The Thrashers beat the Rangers in a shootout Feb. 3 in New York, but Atlanta faces a much different team tonight at Philips Arena.
The Rangers added Sean Avery, Derek Morris and Nik Antropov since then. “All three of them have made a difference for us right away,” said John Tortorella, who is also a new addition as coach. Tortorella said he will always be on Antropov to play a full 60 minutes, but, “That’s a big body with talent.” Avery, a hockey soap opera of a story, has eight points in 10 games with the Rangers since being signed on re-entry waivers. “Sean has been a very, very effective player for us,” Tortorella said. “It’s hopefully going to calm down around him.”
Another change for tonight. The Thrashers face New York’s backup goalie, Steve Valiquette. Valiquette has good stats (2.77 goals against average, .910 save percentage) but he’s not quite Henrik Lundqvist, and he hasn’t won a game since January. He allowed just two goals on 35 shots in his most recent start, a loss at Carolina March 9.
As you read yesterday, Jim Slater returns to the lineup tonight for the Thrashers. Joey Crabb was sent back to Chicago.