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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 1:30 PM

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

Avery sits again vs. EV Zug

ZUG, Switzerland -- Rangers coach John Tortorella said Saturday that he wants to keep only 13 forwards and the battle for the final roster spot was between Sean Avery and Erik Christensen. With two preseason games remaining before the final cut has to be made, most everyone made the assumption that both players would skate in both games so the coach could get a good look at them.

Well, Avery didn't play Sunday in Bratislava and he's not in the lineup today in Zug.

Why? Well, I won't get the chance to ask the coach until after the game, but I can figure only two things: Either Tortorella has seen enough of Avery, who injured his lip against Frolunda on Friday, and wanted to get a real good look at Christensen without having to worry about watching another player as closely, or Avery is on his way out.

I could be way off, but that's what I'm going with right now. I'll find out more from Tortorella after the game.

Christensen is in the lineup and will start centering the fourth line, between Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust. Boyle started Sunday's game as the first-line left wing, but has dropped to the fourth line to start this game. I still think Boyle is targeted to be the Rangers' fourth-line center, but Christensen also is a center and clearly Tortorella has to get one final look at him in a game.

Martin Biron is starting in net for the Rangers with Scott Stajcer serving as his backup. Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire told me that dressing Henrik Lundqvist today would be meaningless, and dressing four out of five nights also is difficult for a goalie, who even as a backup still has to prepare and mentally focus as if he is going to play.

EV Zug has some recognizable names, including goalie Jussi Markkanen, who played 26 games for the Rangers in 2003-04, but is more known for his time in Edmonton. Markkanen is in his third year in Zug.

Glen Metropolit has played in 407 NHL games with seven teams, most recently the Canadiens from 2008-10. Josh Holden played a combined 60 NHL games for the Canucks, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs, and Andy Wozniewski played with the Leafs, Blues and Bruins, totaling 79 NHL games, from 2005-10.

One of the Zug beat writers told me to watch Damien Brunner, No. 96 in your program. The 25-year-old is the leading scorer in the Swiss league and many here believe he will compete for an NHL contract next season. The Wild were interested in him this season, but Brunner decided to stay in Switzerland because an injury kept him out of the World Championship, and presumably, cost him a chance at a better NHL contract.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 8:55 AM

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

Torts eager to get to Stockholm

ZURICH, Switzerland -- By no means are the Rangers overlooking tonight's game against EV Zug, but coach John Tortorella admitted Sunday night that his team is tired and needs to get settled in to focus on the season-opener on Friday against Los Angeles.

To do that, Tortorella is looking forward to having two strong practices in Stockholm on Wednesday and Thursday. The Rangers will fly to Sweden's capital city on Tuesday and won't skate, but Wednesday has all the makings of a big-time work day for the club.

"I think we've really got to try to use (tonight's) game to be a little bit quicker in the things we do, but with respect to the players there is a lot of things that go into it," Tortorella said. "With a big rink it's just a different game, it really is. We're going to try to do the best we can to prepare. That's why I'm really looking forward to the two practice days we have. I think that's going to be an important part toward the end of this camp."

Tortorella plans to work on all facets of the Rangers' "concept" on Wednesday and Thursday, including the power play, which has been spotty in the three games here in Europe.

"It's OK. It's OK," Tortorella said of the power play. "But, again, I'm looking forward to the two practice days. We'll work on that and we'll work on a number of different things, and go from there."

Henrik Lundqvist, who won't play against EV Zug, said the travel/rest day Tuesday as well as the practices scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday will be key for him because while he's feeling better and better with each passing game, he still has some fine tuning to do.

"I have to have a good week with some hard practice to work on all the details," Lundqvist said. "It's important to get a good week in with some solid practice, and to rest up a little bit. It's been a busy schedule the last couple of days. When we get to Stockholm we're going to take a deep breath and then have Wednesday and Thursday to really work on all things to get ready."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 5:32 PM

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

Some news, some other stuff

ZURICH, Switzerland -- John Tortorella had no update to give us on defenseman Marc Staal (post-concussion symptoms) based off his practice Saturday with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.

Staal practiced with the Whale on Friday and said he would return Saturday if he did not experience headaches. He was back Saturday, but Tortorella said he hadn't yet spoken to trainer Jim Ramsey to find out how it went. He said the six-hour time difference and the fact that he was focused on getting the guys that are here prepared for a game didn't allow him to talk to Ramsey.

Odds are Tortorella spoke to Ramsey on the flight here from Bratislava, but I won't have the ability to ask Tortorella anything about that conversation until either before or after Monday's game in Zug.

What's also of note is that Tortorella wouldn't specifically rule Michael Sauer (shoulder sprain) out of Monday's game. Tortorella instead said he still has to talk to Ramsey to see how Sauer is doing, but he mentioned that the young defenseman was progressing nicely in his recovery and hinted that he would be ready to go for the season-opener Friday in Stockholm against the Kings.

"He's day to day, much better today, but we're trying to be careful there," Tortorella said. "We want him to be as healthy as possible before we open up."

Speaking about that other stuff, I just wanted to take the time to give a great deal of credit to the Rangers equipment staff led by Cas Marques. Those guys have been working harder than anyone on this trip.

Knowing they would be rushed Sunday night to get everything out of the arena and on the truck so the team could take off on time, Cas and his boys had the bags packed and ready to go before some of the players were even out of the showers. It was pretty incredible to see them at work.

They even got some help from Bill Miller of the NHL Events Department. As I was going into the dressing room to talk to the players, Miller was lugging two huge equipment bags out.

Well done Cas and his boys, and well done Bill.

Finally, Ruslan Fedotenko rode in the cockpit for our flight from Bratislava to Zurich. Fortunately, Fedotenko did not mess with any of the equipment.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 5:30 PM

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

Boyle getting a look at LW spot

BRATISLAVA -- Brian Boyle was told by coach John Tortorella that he would eventually get a shot to play left wing on the top line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.

His opportunity came tonight, and after sluggish start Boyle, normally a center, said he got more and more comfortable in the unfamiliar role.

"We have a lot of depth this year and depth at center, so to be able to play wing and play it well is something I've got to continue to work on," said Boyle, who scored a goal in the Rangers 4-1 win over HC Slovan. "That'll help me play more. It's a good thing to have in your aresenal."

Tortorella wasn't all that impressed with Boyle or the top line in general, but that was due in large part to the sluggish nature of the entire team after a hectic travel day that started in Sweden and will end in Switzerland.

That said, Tortorella is still willing to try out people at that left wing spot to see if something clicks. He also used Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko there.

Right now Wojtek Wolski appears to have a leg up on everybody, but he's day-to-day with a sore groin so Boyle, Dubinsky and Fedotenko might get another crack with Richards and Gaborik Monday night in Zug.

"It was mixed up a little bit, the lines, but he's strong," Gaborik said of Boyle. "We'll see what is going to happen there, but he played well."

If Boyle fits there it'll only be because he plays his straight-ahead, no-nonsense game. It might make sense for the Rangers to have a more physical player to play with Gaborik and Richards, but that's something Tortorella has to figure out.

"I can't worry about trying to play a different game or a finesse game with them," Boyle said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 12:36 PM

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

Rangers lead 3-1 after second

BRATISLAVA -- The Rangers scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take a two-goal lead into the final 20 minutes.

Artem Anisimov capped the second-period scoring with a shorthanded goal at 17:42. Brandon Prust made the play possible by racing into the zone and picking up a turnover by Slovan goalie Patrick Galbraith, who tried to leave the puck for one of his defensemen but did it too slowly, allowing the forechecking Prust to make the play.

Prust gathered the puck and found Anisimov in front. Anisimov's first shot was stopped, but he kicked the rebound back to his forehand and from the lip of the crease he put the puck in the net to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

Mats Zuccarello scored on a 5-on-3 with 13:57 to play in the second period and Brian Boyle scored 59 seconds later to give the Rangers the lead.

The Rangers had 18 shots in the second period after managing only six in the first. Henrik Lundqvist has 22 saves through two periods.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 12:17 PM

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

Rangers strike quickly for two

BRATISLAVA -- The Rangers had a full two-minute 5-on-3 to work with and they cashed in as Mats Zuccarello scored at 6:03 of the second period to make it 1-1. Fifty-nine seconds later, Brian Boyle converted on a slam dunk goal from in front of the crease to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead with 12:58 to play in the second period.

Slovan's Martin Stajnoch and David Skokan went to the box at 4:56 with respective hooking and interference penalties.

Zuccarello scored during the 5-on-3 with a one-timer from the lower right circle off a feed from Brad Richards. Zuccarello fed Richards between the circles and after faking a shot, Richards gave it back to him for the one timer.

Shortly after the power play expired, Dan Girardi made a sweet pass from the right circle to Boyle, who was all alone in the low slot for the easy goal.

The Rangers, who were outshot, 12-6, in the first period, have a 10-3 advantage so far in the second period and not even nine minutes have gone by.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 11:48 AM

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

HC Slovan holds 1-0 lead after first

BRATISLAVA -- The road weary Rangers showed very little jump in the first period and trail 1-0 heading into the dressing room for the first intermission. Ivan Svarny's power-play goal at 8:22 is the difference. Slovan holds a 12-6 advantage in shots on goal.

The Rangers penalty kill, which was burned by Svarny, got better later in the period when it had to kill off back-to-back minors to Brian Boyle and Steve Eminger that including a 5-on-3 for 21 seconds.

Boyle went off for boarding at 15:59 and Eminger was called for cross checking at 17:38.

Near the end of the 5-on-3, Henrik Lundqvist came across his crease to make a sharp pad save on a redirect to keep the deficit at only 1-0.

The atmosphere inside Slovnaft Arena is spectacular. The fans are cheering just about everything. They, of course, love Marian Gaborik.

Second period coming soon.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 11:28 AM

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

Slovan grabs 1-0 lead

BRATISLAVA -- With Mike Rupp in the penalty box for hooking, HC Slovan struck for a power-play goal to take a 1-0 lead with 11:18 to play in the first period.

Ivan Svarny set up shop at the top of the blue line and rifled a low snap shot that cleared the screens in front of Henrik Lundqvist and beat the Rangers goalie on his glove side. Michal Macho and ex-NHLer Miroslav Satan picked up the assists.

With just under 10 minutes remaining now, Slovan holds a 1-0 lead and a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 10:31 AM

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

Christensen in, Avery sits against HC Slovan

BRATISLAVA -- Rangers coach John Tortorella said Saturday that Sean Avery and Erik Christensen are vying for the final roster spot before the team gets to Stockholm to open the regular season.

Well, Christensen is in the lineup tonight against HC Slovan, and Avery is scratched. Read into that what you will, but I'll find out more of Tortorella's reasoning after the game.

I thought he would play them both tonight and Monday in Zug, and judge off of those performances, but clearly Tortorella has a different plan.

Wojtek Wolski is the other forward scratched, but he played in both Prague and Gothenburg.

Henrik Lundqvist will start in net for the Rangers and be backed up by Martin Biron.

Dan Girardi, who hasn't played yet here in Europe, will be on the top defensive pair with Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers have only six healthy defensemen here with Michael Sauer still out with a shoulder injury and Marc Staal back in the U.S.

Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Brendan Bell and Stu Bickel round out the Rangers D corps tonight.

Brian Boyle will get a look as the left wing on the top line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov will play together again. That seems to be the Rangers second line for the moment, and will be to start the season provided Tortorella feels comfortable with either Wolski or perhaps even Boyle on the top line with Richards and Gaborik.

Christensen, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko make up the third line. The fourth line is Derek Stepan with Mats Zuccarello and Mike Rupp.

One noticeable name on the Slovan roster is Miroslav Satan.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 8:49 AM

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

Three in one

BRATISLAVA -- Three countries in a span of about 12 hours. Holy smokes.

That's what today is all about, three in one, with a game in the middle.

We have arrived in Bratislava and the Rangers are in the process of getting ready for their game against HC Slovan at Slovnaft Arena in a little over three hours.

We woke up this morning in Gothenburg, had breakfast and headed to the airport for our roughly two hour flight to Bratislava. We touched down here around 1:10 p.m. local time.

We bussed to a hotel, which is attached to Slovnaft Arena, so the Rangers could have a pregame meal. More on that in a bit.

There were plenty of autograph and photograph hounds waiting at the hotel for the Rangers to arrive. There were also several photographers and TV cameras waiting for Gaborik, who happily did interviews with them all and signed as many autographs as he could.

In fact, as Gaborik was walking up a flight of stairs to a scheduled pregame meal, a kid in a wheelchair came into the lobby and screamed out his name. Gaborik turned around and quickly made a beeline down the steps to sign the kids cards and take a picture with him.

Speaking of the pregame meal, after eating breakfast and then getting the chance to eat again on the plane, I'm not sure how many Rangers at again at the hotel. I'm not exactly sure who ate and how much they did, because it would have been their third meal in about four hours, which seems a bit crazy to me.

Anyway, even with the arena only a two-minute walk from the hotel, it was still a chore to find the right way to go. For some reason myself, Rangers website writer Jim Cerny and MSG photographer Scott Levy decided to follow a crew that included Mike Rupp, Martin Biron and Scott Stajcer.

We should have just waited for Gaborik considering he has played here before and probably would have been a better guide.

But, we digress. We found our way into the press center and I must say, it is really nice and the wireless internet access is first class.

The game begins at 5 p.m. local time and when it's over, we'll be back on the bus, heading back to the airport to fly to Zurich tonight. The Rangers play in nearby Zug on Monday night, their final tuneup before the regular season begins Friday in Stockholm.

Three countries in one day with a game in the middle. Just your average day.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic