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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 5:50 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Del Zotto, Erixon play well, but ...

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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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 5:39 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Mission accomplished

PRAGUE -- The Rangers arrived here Tuesday with three goals in mind: Continue to improve, win a hockey game and soak up some of the Czech culture.

They'll leave here Friday morning feeling good about accomplishing all three goals.

"We got some work on the power play and got some work on the penalty killing," coach John Tortorella said following a 2-0 win against HC Sparta Prague at Tesla Arena on Thursday. "We had a real good day (Wednesday) as far as working on our concept, not only on the ice but in the room as far as video. We just keep going about our business."

Tortorella mentioned numerous times how important Wednesday's practice was. He was not pleased with how his team played in Monday's 5-3 loss at Philadelphia or how they practiced Tuesday after arriving here following the eight-hour overnight flight.

But Wednesday was by far the Rangers most important day in Prague from a hockey standpoint because Tortorella for the most part was able to divide the team so the guys that will likely be on the NHL roster were in one group while the guys who are most likely heading to Hartford after Friday's game in Gothenburg were in the other.

"It was a very important day for me as far as the coaching staff," Tortorella said. "We're down in numbers and we've gotten near our game group, and we really buckled down on the ice as far as our game concept and then had a good video session. That's what we're going to keep pounding away on in the next few days."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Rangers hang on to 2-0 lead after 40 minutes

PRAGUE -- The Rangers lead remains 2-0 heading into the third period. Anisimov and Fedotenko had the goals in the second and Biron continues to play a sharp game, leading to his shutout through two periods.

New York's second power play unit worked on Fedotenko's goal and has actually been quite impressive on both of its chances. The first unit (Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Wojtek Wolski, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky) has struggled to generate much.

However, the Rangers for the most part dominated the second period after what can only be considered a sub-par first period for them.

The third period is set to begin soon.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 2:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Rangers score on PP, lead 2-0

PRAGUE -- Michael Del Zotto found Ruslan Fedotenko in front of the net for a power-play goal to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead with 11:30 to play in the second period here at Tesla Arena.

Derek Stepan started the play on the right wing, passing down to Del Zotto, who was near the goal line. Fedotenko cut to the net and Del Zotto found him for an easy goal with the man-advantage.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 2:13 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Rangers grab 1-0 lead

PRAGUE -- Artem Anisimov got the Rangers on the board with 14:15 to play in the second period, giving them a 1-0 lead over Sparta Prague.

Anisimov scored from the slot with a backhander off a feed from Tim Erixon. Brandon Dubinsky started the play with a sharp diagonal pass from the right circle down to the goal line for Erixon.

Sparta's defense shifted and goalie Tomas Popperle went to the near post. Erixon recognized and found Anisimov, who settled puck and shot it into the open net.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 1:51 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Scoreless after 1st period

PRAGUE -- The Rangers and HC Sparta Prague played a scoreless first period at Tesla Arena.

Rangers goalie Martin Biron was sharp throughout the entire period to keep it scoreless. He made four memorable saves, including one at the end of the period to stop Sparta on a 3-on-1 rush.

The Rangers didn't generate much, if anything, offensively and were not physical in the least bit. Perhaps that's just the Rangers feeling out Sparta, the ice and the building, but they just weren't very good in the first period, save for Biron.

However, the Rangers' penalty kill was strong as it killed off a pair of minors, to Brandon Prust and Brendan Bell. The Rangers' power play barely generated anything on its one chance through the first 20 minutes.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 12:46 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Ready to rock here at Tesla Arena

PRAGUE -- The arena started filling up around 6 p.m. local time, which is about when I started to make my way up to the press box, otherwise known as the press tribune here.

To say I never have watched a game from this perspective as a media member would be an understatement. For visual evidence, check this out (link to http://yfrog.com/h3tlqcgqj).

We are up top in the arena, which isn't too high considering it's about half the size of an NHL rink, and in the corner. It's actually not a bad view of the ice because I can see the full sheet with no obstruction. However, I can't see the scoreboard, so that should make tweeting and blogging interesting as the game goes on.

My laptop is situated on what looks like the top of a music stand that has been screwed onto the bars in front of the seats, which, by the way, are benches that fold up when you're not seated. If I tried to sit down, I would be too low to type, so I'll be standing for the entire game.

It's 6:30 here now and Marty Biron just led the Rangers onto the ice. There was a decent applause for them. The Rangers are wearing their home blues.

Sparta Prague, wearing their whites with the signature S on the chest, just came on the ice. The cheer was louder for them, and that's the way it should be considering this is their barn and these are their fans.

As the building continues to fill up, the teams are going through their warm-ups and I'm waiting for Rangers website writer Jim Cerny to get me a roster sheet. Hey, he said he would.

Well, since he probably won't, I'll have to make my way down to the press room, which is actually in the gymnasium here (you can't make this stuff up, folks) and grab the roster sheet for myself.

Replays will be hard to see, but I am looking forward to puck drop. I'll have updates after the first period and again after the second period. I'll also be live tweeting, so follow along because this game is not on TV.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 11:56 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Time to start churning

PRAGUE -- Starting with the game here Thursday night (afternoon in North America), the Rangers face the daunting test of playing four games in five nights in four different countries.

Ryan Callahan told NHL.com that now is when the grind really begins.

"We have four in five coming up, and now is the time we have to really start focusing on the regular season and getting prepared," Callahan said.

The Rangers face HC Sparta Prague here and then go to Gothenburg, Swe. to play the Frolunda Indians on Friday. They have an off day in Gothenburg on Saturday, and then head to Bratislava, Slovakia on Sunday to play HC Slovan.

It's an in and out trip in Bratislava because the Rangers (and I) will be back on the plane to head to Zug, Switzerland for their final preseason game Monday. After two nights there, the Rangers leave for Stockholm on Tuesday afternoon to begin final preparations for their season opener against the Kings next Thursday night at Globe Arena.

"It's really an intense couple of days here with four games in five nights in four different countries, so we have to be focused and do our best in these four games," Henrik Lundqvist said. "They mean a lot to us. It's an intense couple of days."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 6:43 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Morning skate report

PRAGUE -- Brandon Prust confirmed that he will play for the first time this preseason when the Rangers face HC Sparta Prague tonight at Tesla Arena.

Prust played the bulk of last season with a bum shoulder that he had operated on over the summer. A typically physical player who engages in fights, Prust was held out of contact drills, scrimmages and preseason games during the Rangers' North American portion of training camp just to be safe.

Now he's raring to go.

"It's only the preseason, but it feels like it's regular season for me," Prust said. "It's been a while since I've been out even scrimmaging with all that body contact. I'm looking forward to it."

Prust said he will not hold back.

"I'm going to go out and try to play my game, be physical," he added. "We have a short period of time here before the regular season so I have to make sure I know the body is ready and I get it ready."

Likely lineup: The 12 forwards that will suit up for the Rangers against HC Sparta Prague will all be on the NHL roster.

The only two NHL forwards that won't play are Sean Avery and Brian Boyle. Avery and Boyle both skated with the second group Thursday morning, but Avery is still recovering from a sore foot and Boyle has been battling flu-like symptoms.

The Rangers will have their top two lines intact.

Brad Richards will center Marian Gaborik and Wojtek Wolsi while Artem Anismov will play in the middle between Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. The likely third line will feature Derek Stepan between Ruslan Fedotenko and Mats Zuccarello. Erik Christensen, Mike Rupp and Prust will make up the fourth line.

The blue-line remains a question mark with the status of Marc Staal (possible post-concussion symptoms) and Michael Sauer (sprained shoulder) still in doubt. Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon, Stu Bickel and Brendan Bell will play against Sparta.

Martin Biron will get the start in net and is expected to play the entire game. Henrik Lundqvist will back him up.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 2:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Rangers, Sparta exchange jerseys

PRAGUE -- HC Sparta Prague played the role of gracious hosts Wednesday night. They invited the Rangers to the Hard Rock Cafe to be their special guests at a 2011 NHL Premiere Challenge event.

The two teams, which will play against one another at Tesla Arena Thursday night, exchanged jerseys and pleasantries. Sparta also presented the Rangers with a book on the club's history.

The Rangers were represented by Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Glen Sather and Jim Schoenfeld.

"It certainly was great of Sparta to invite us here to exchange jerseys," Callahan told NHL.com. "It means a lot to us that they have accepted us so well. We are looking forward to playing them tomorrow night. They've been great hosts."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday