GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- Considering the Rangers are expected to be making cuts in the next 24 hours, there were other storylines to watch from their perspective tonight. It just wouldn't be right to lump them in with what was an incredible homecoming for Henrik Lundqvist.
So instead, I'm going to push off the other news until Saturday, when the Rangers have a scheduled off day because Lundqvist has planned activities around Gothenburg for all of them. Tonight I'm going empty my recorder right into this blog.
Here are quotes about Lundqvist's night that I didn't use in my main story:
Lundqvist on the experience: "So many memories came up. I had my parents here and my closest friends, but also the Rangers. To have them here feels amazing. It's just a great experience. I will never forget it."
Lundqvist on getting an "A": "They were hiding my jersey until I had to go on. Then I saw it. There were so many things that meant a lot to me today and that was one of them, getting an 'A' here. To have the crowd welcome me like that and the players play a great game. I was very nervous. I wanted to win this game so I don't have to come back next summer and hear about it. Right now I'm just trying to reflect about everything that happened. It's going to take a couple of days."
Lundqvist on facing his twin brother, Joel: "I don't know if it's tough, but it's weird. Somehow I can always tell when he's on the ice and I always get a little more nervous when he gets closer to the net. I definitely don't want him to score. I really don't want him to score so it feels good that he did not score today."
Brian Boyle on Lundqvist: "You just feel happy for the guy. I can't imagine it's easy to go to across the ocean and play, and he's really made a name for himself. He's obviously a great athlete, a great goaltender and he means so much as a player on our team, but he's just a great guy. He's a great teammate, friend and he treats everybody with a lot of respect, it doesn't matter where you are in the organization. He's a good person so you want him to do well and you want good things to happen to him. It's obvious that they have and he's earned it."
Brian Boyle again on Lundqvist's plans for his team-only activity in Gothenburg on Saturday: "He wants us to see it so he has a lot of things set up for us. I know he's done a lot of work in that regard just to get us all together. That's a big thing for a team, and for him to go through a lot of work and make plans to get us involved, he just went out of his way to make sure we enjoy this trip as much as he does."
Tim Erixon on being a part of the experience: "It was exciting to see the ceremony before. You realize just how much they like him here and how big he is here. That was special."
Mike Rupp on seeing Lundqvist in this environment: "It's really neat to see. This is a part of the world that I'm not too familiar with, and you get to see what these guys mean. Sometimes I think we forget how fortunate we are when we play this game that you can look back on your career and see how many different players you've played with and what they mean to their country. It's pretty impressive."
PRAGUE -- Michael Del Zotto and Tim Erixon were noticeable all game as they helped the Rangers to a 2-0 win against HC Sparta Prague on Thursday. Del Zotto had a key assist on Ruslan Fedotenko's power-play goal and Erixon was credited with a pair of assists -- his most important play was the pass that set up Artem Anisimov for the Rangers first goal.
However, Rangers coach John Tortorella wasn't exactly throwing out the superlatives to his two young defensemen, who are still trying to make the opening night roster.
Tortorella said evaluating Del Zotto and Erixon off Thursday's game is tough because of the larger international ice surface. Both are skilled skaters and puck-movers -- the kind of players who are always going to fare better when they have more room to operate.
"There is more room and it's hard to take time and space (away)," Tortorella said. "You could see we struggled with that in the first period. When we start playing in North America there is not going to be a lot of room -- and these situations, Michael and Erixon, players like that, are going to have to thrive in if they want to continue to get ice time.
"But they did some good things (Thursday)."
Tortorella already knows what Del Zotto is capable of in an NHL game on NHL-sized ice. Erixon is coming to the Rangers from Sweden, so he was noticeably more comfortable on the larger surface because that's all he knows.
That said, Tortorella did give the kid some praise, an obvious sign of how badly he wants Erixon to make the team.
"He's improving," the coach said. "He's playing a system that he hasn't played before. We've asked him to do some things he's not comfortable with. He's improving along the way here."
It's highly probable that both Erixon and Del Zotto will play again Friday in Gothenburg. The ice sheet will again be big, but there's nothing the coach can do about it.
"It's a puck-control type of situation where you're not going to have a lot of the same puck-control when you play in a North American arena," Tortorella said. "It's a different game playing in a big rink. My biggest fear is we don't get into bad habits because we're going to be playing on small ice once the season starts."
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Very happy that old guy finally scored. It was great. You see the excitement on his face. I remember when I scored my first goal and it's just such a great feeling. Anytime you can help contribute to a team win it's a lot of fun.