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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 6:52 AM

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

Woywitka arrives, eager to be a Ranger

STOCKHOLM -- Jeff Woywitka was wide awake and excited Saturday morning. Nothing could wipe the smile off his face, not even the jet lag he had to be feeling or the thought that he'll be back on a plane after the game against the Ducks, heading to another hotel bed.

The Rangers claimed Woywitka off waivers from Montreal on Thursday. He didn't play Friday and he won't play tonight either, but he's here and he's excited to be a Ranger despite his whirlwind last two days.

"It's been interesting and also exciting," Woywitka told NHL.com after taking part in his first optional skate as a Ranger. "I was put on waivers the other day, and you never know what can happen. If you clear you can end up going down, but obviously your main goal is to stay in the NHL. To get picked up and have another opportunity to play it's exciting for me, especially with an organization like the Rangers. I know a few of the guys here, and things are good."

Since Woywitka was in Toronto with the Canadiens, he left from there on an 8:50 p.m. ET flight to Copenhagen. After an hour and a half layover, he flew to Stockholm and got here around 1 p.m. local time Friday.

Woywitka didn't walk into the Rangers team hotel here until 2:30.

"Most of the guys were already in their pregame naps," said Woywitka, who played the last two seasons in Dallas with Brad Richards. "I got to the hotel and saw Brendan Bell, a guy I played World Juniors with. I hung out in the lobby, talked to him, met a few of the guys -- it was good. I came to the game, saw a good one, and Stockholm looks like a very historic, unique city. It's nice to get a chance to experience that and see a new part of the world."

Woywitka experienced his first team meeting with Rangers coach John Tortorella on Saturday. He was also one of 12 guys to skate after the meeting.

He'll get a better crash course in the Rangers ways when the team gets back on its routine in New York next week. For now, though, he couldn't stop raving about how well he is being treated.

"Everything was set up perfectly," he said about his travel here. "Everything was straightforward, lined up. You can just tell these guys do it first class here. That's all you can ask for. It makes you feel comfortable."

It also makes him feel confident that once he gets to New York, Woywitka will have some help setting up his life there. He's a single guy so he doesn't have to worry about moving a family, but the adjustment is still taxing.

"That's part of the NHL," Woywitka said. "There are a lot of movements here and there, but I'm excited about it. The way I've been treated here already, I'm sure it's not going to be a big issue getting settled. Obviously there is going to be a change, but I'm looking forward to it."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 6:29 AM

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

A new challenge from the Ducks

STOCKHOLM -- After getting beaten all over the ice by Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Simon Gagne in the first period Friday night, the Rangers tightened up against the Kings top line and managed to keep them in check.

The difference was in their forecheck. Or, better yet, the difference was that they actually forechecked starting in the second period.

"We knew the ice was bad so the times when you don't want to forecheck or stretch yourself out too much, we decided we were going to go and get two guys on (the Kings) D," Brian Boyle told NHL.com. "Once we started doing that we got the puck back more. When they got the puck back after that we were closer to them to have some contact. Earlier we were giving them too much room to skate."

The Rangers can't wait to do the same Saturday night against the Ducks leading trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. As good as the Kopitar line is, Anaheim's first line might be the best in the NHL.

"They're very dangerous," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan told NHL.com. "They have a lot of talent up front and the more time we spend in their zone below the dots it'll be for the better. That's a big thing for us, getting pucks deep behind their D."

The more the Rangers have the puck, the better their chances are to draw penalties. They only drew one Friday night, but they took five and the fifth one burned them.

"That's the biggest thing for us, we have to hold on to pucks, especially when you're up against top lines," Callahan said. "If you have the puck, they don't."

Slight advantage: The Rangers went back to their hotel Friday night, had a quick meal and were off to bed. They woke up Saturday and took what has become a familiar route to Ericsson Globe Arena, the arena they've called home since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Ducks played in Helsinki Friday night, had a quick team meal, and then went to the airport, where they sat for a while before finally taking off to fly to Stockholm. They didn't get to the team hotel until close to 3 o'clock in the morning, and then woke up Saturday in an unfamiliar place and took an unfamiliar route to an arena they've never been in.

Advantage Rangers.

"Yeah, that might be," Boyle said. "It's easier when you don't have to travel, but we lost last night so I'm sure a lot of guys were up late trying to get to sleep. I know I was. It was tough. At this point, you could argue that we have a little bit of an advantage, but it's minimal. We know they're going to come hard and we've got to do the same."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:55 AM

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

Erixon, Rupp and Tortorella's gems

STOCKHOLM -- Swedish journalists are quickly learning what not to ask Rangers coach John Tortorella.

For instance, someone asked him if he ever played in Sweden?

"Oh, don't ask me questions about me," was Tortorella's response.

The next question was from another Swedish journalist who wanted to know how Tortorella felt about what he's seen from Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.

"They haven't started yet," Tortorella said. "You can come back to the States in a couple weeks and ask me that."

His comment drew some laughs and Tortorella smiled. He said it somewhat in jest, but everyone got the picture.

The Rangers coach was interested in one thing Friday morning, and that was talking about Friday night's game.

"I thought we created an identity of how we wanted to play and what we were last year and we want to go right back to it and keep building," Tortorella said.

Tortorella confirmed that Tim Erixon will be in the lineup for his NHL debut in his home country. Erixon's father, Jan Erixon, a former Ranger, is expected to be in the building Friday night.

Mike Rupp will also play after sitting out Thursday's practice with a sore knee. Rupp told NHL.com his knee had been acting up so he was given a day off to rest it and ice it.

"I'm ready to go now," he said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:40 AM

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

Rangers ready to win without Staal

STOCKHOLM -- They can't replace him, but the Rangers say they can still win without star defenseman Marc Staal, who remains back in New York dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

Their first test comes Friday night here against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere.

"You're to have injuries and you just have to accept it. You can't see it as a great problem for your club," Henrik Lundqvist told NHL.com Friday morning. "Whatever we have here now is going to work for us. That's the way you have to think. Whenever he comes, he's going to be welcomed here, but right now it's up to us and I think we're going to do well."

There is no timetable on when Staal will return.

Rangers GM and President Glen Sather told the New York Post that he could be out a month, but if the headaches go away he'll be back sooner. If the headaches persist, Staal's absence could linger beyond November.

It's impossible to predict.

"He's not here with us right now so we have to get going without him," Dan Girardi, who takes over as the team's No. 1 blue-liner in Staal's absence, told NHL.com. "We have a bunch of D here right now that can play and we're all going to step up our game in his absence and hopefully bring a little extra to fill the hole."

Ryan McDonagh said the Rangers five-man defensive system should help minimize the effect of losing Staal.

"We play a whole five-man unit defensive system in our D zone so not everything relies on the D-men," McDonagh told NHL.com. "If you play defense as a team it helps solidify everything."

McDonagh, who played 40 games as a rookie last season, will start Friday's game with Girardi on the top pair. Michael Del Zotto, who entered camp just trying to make it through all the cuts, will play on the second pair with Michael Sauer. Tim Erixon will be making his NHL debut Friday night on the third pair with Steve Eminger.

New addition Jeff Woywitka, who arrived here Friday morning, and Brendan Bell are the scratches for Friday's game.

"I don't think anyone is going to be playing out of their comfort zone and trying to do too much," Girardi told NHL.com. "I'm still going to play my game and the other guys are going to play their game. Just because Marc is not here doesn't mean we're going to step out of our roles."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 1:38 PM

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

Rangers claim Woywitka off waivers from Canadiens

STOCKHOLM -- The Rangers picked up some defensive insurance Thursday by claiming Jeff Woywitka off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.

Woywitka was due to fly from Montreal to Stockholm, where the Rangers open the season Friday against the Los Angeles Kings. It wasn't immediately known if Woywitka would arrive in time for the morning skate, or who will be assigned to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL to make room for him on the roster.

Defensemen Stu Bickel has been assigned back to Connecticut.

Woywitka signed a one-year, two-way contract with Montreal on July 1 that pays him $650,000 at the NHL level.

"It's too bad we lost him, but it's a nice opportunity for him in New York," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "I think the fact we signed players like (Alexei) Emelin and (Rafael) Diaz, they're two players with a lot of potential who have played professional hockey before and who bring different elements. So I think we have good depth on defense."

The Rangers were looking for a veteran defenseman to help them with Marc Staal going on injured reserve due to post-concussion symptoms. The club recalled Erixon from Connecticut on Wednesday and brought him back across the Atlantic to potentially make his NHL debut Friday against the Kings in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere.

However, coach John Tortorella would prefer that Erixon learn the North American game in the AHL for a while.

Woywitka played the last two seasons in Dallas, compiling 14 points over 99 games. He has played in 251 NHL games since making his debut with St. Louis in 2005-06. His best season was 2008-09, when he had 18 points in 65 games with the Blues.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 9:40 AM

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

Rangers ready to go ... karting

STOCKHOLM -- After a second straight healthy practice at Ericsson Globe Arena, several Rangers players were planning an afternoon go-karting trip.

Odds are coach John Tortorella wasn't among them.

The Rangers are a loose bunch these days, but they're also a focused bunch. I'm not sure if I've been around a team that was more excited to get the preseason finished.

Four games on international ice in five nights in four different countries will get you soured on the preseason. The Rangers are pumped to play for two points Friday.

"I'm not sure if it's nerves; it's anticipation," Tortorella said. "Camp is long. It's long for the players, it's long for the coaches. I'm anxious to see us play. If you don't have any type of anxiousness or nervousness before a game, any game, you're not ready. So, yeah, I'm geared up right now."

Henrik Lundqvist said he can feel himself getting "more tense and focused on what we have to do."

"The season starts tomorrow and I can tell inside of me that mentally I'm getting ready and physically I'm getting ready," he added. "It's exciting."

Rupp misses practice: Left wing Mike Rupp was held out of practice Thursday as a precaution due to a sore knee, Tortorella said. The coach called it a maintenance day for Rupp, and said he will be in the lineup Friday against the Kings (1 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN).

Quotable: "I've got to say, we're really happy with the team we have right now," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We have four solid lines, obviously one of the best goalies in the League and a pretty young, strong 'D' corps back there. Even without Marc (Staal), I think we're one of the top-10 teams in the League. I don't want to go too high or too low here, but I think we've got a pretty solid team here."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 10:31 AM

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

Rangers to recall Erixon as sixth defenseman

STOCKHOLM -- Rangers coach John Tortorella admitted Tuesday night that he had reservations about using either Brendan Bell or Stu Bickel as his No. 6 defenseman to start the season.

His voice was most definitely heard, because the club will recall rookie defenseman Tim Erixon from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL on Wednesday.

After practicing with the Whale on Wednesday, Erixon will fly to Stockholm to join the team for Thursday's practice in preparation for Friday's season-opener against Los Angeles in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere.

It's been a whirlwind adventure for the native Swede.

Erixon was in Europe with the Rangers until he was cut on Saturday. He returned to Connecticut on Sunday, but now he's ticketed for his third trans-Atlantic flight in a matter of 10 days.

Tortorella wanted Erixon to play in the AHL so he could get used to playing on the smaller ice sheet and work on parts of his game, including closing out players and overall being more physical.

However, with Marc Staal not here due to post-concussion symptoms and Tortorella clearly not comfortable with using Bell or Bickel, especially in back-to-back games, Erixon is on his way back.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 12:58 PM

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

Rangers waive Avery, lose Weise to Canucks

STOCKHOLM -- Who knew that an arrival to a new city would be met with breaking news.

Not long after we touched down in Stockholm, Larry Brooks of the New York Post tweeted that Sean Avery was going to be placed on waivers at noon ET today. The news spread quickly, and a Rangers representative confirmed it to me shortly after it happened officially.

I wrote all about Avery and waivers in this story, but the gist of it is that he will be on waivers for 24 hours and can be claimed. If he is, the Rangers will be off the hook from paying him the $1,937,500 they owe him for the season.

If Avery goes unclaimed, the Rangers likely will assign him to Connecticut of the AHL. They would still have to pay him, but they would no longer have his salary cap hit.

Avery's agent, Pat Morris, told ESPN.com and The Sporting News that the 31-year-old left wing's future could be in Europe.

We'll see on that.

If that wasn't enough, Dale Weise, who had a strong camp but was cut and placed on waivers Saturday, was claimed by Vancouver on Tuesday. Weise could get an opportunity to play with the Canucks early this season due to injuries to Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler.

Weise is a tough loss for the Rangers in terms of depth. He would have started the season in Connecticut, but also could have been one of the first forwards called up. Kris Newbury, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Bourque and John Mitchell also were cut Saturday.

Also, defensemen Stu Bickel and Brendan Bell were also put on waivers today.

That's a good sign that Michael Sauer is healthy and ready to go Friday, but if Bickel and Bell get claimed, the Rangers will have to bring in a new defensemen because Marc Staal is not coming and the only other healthy blueliners here are Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Steve Eminger.

Coach John Tortorella is expected to address the media in the Rangers' hotel lobby sometime this evening. I'll have more later.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 8:29 PM

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

Rangers know how much practice means

ZUG, Switzerland -- John Tortorella said originally the Rangers were supposed to play in Budapest on Monday night, but that game got cancelled. Instead of keeping Monday as an open date, the Rangers worked with the NHL to schedule their game against EV Zug at Bossard Arena.

From an atmosphere and money-making standpoint, packing the arena and selling all kinds of merchandise made the night a success. From a coaching standpoint, Tortorella now wishes the game were never scheduled only because he would have loved to use it as a practice day.

The Rangers lost the game, 8-4.

"We played four games in five nights and you tell me how many countries we've been in … I don't know," Tortorella said. "When we were doing the schedule, we added this one and I wish we had this as a practice day. I think we need to practice. We haven't practiced."

The Rangers last good, long, hard practice came last Wednesday in Prague. They played Thursday against Sparta Prague and Friday in Gothenburg against Frolunda. They were given Saturday off and then played Sunday in Bratislava against HC Slovan and Monday here against EV Zug.

They will travel to Stockholm on Tuesday and will not skate, but Tortorella has grand plans for practice sessions Wednesday and Thursday at Ericsson Globe Arena.

"It's going to be good to recharge our batteries and refocus our energy and efforts into some practices on Wednesday and Thursday before the weekend comes," Brandon Dubinsky said.

The Rangers have some work to do with their power play and keeping their sticks on the ice so they stop taking some unnecessary penalties. They've got to figure out exactly who is going to play left wing on the line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.

Wojtek Wolski likely has the edge in that race, but he's been dealing with a sore groin, so he needs to get back on the ice and practice. The same goes for defenseman Michael Sauer, who has worked out only once since spraining his shoulder last week in Philadelphia.

Tortorella expects Wolski and Sauer to practice with the team on Wednesday.

"Every city that we've been in has been very hospitable," Dubinsky said. "The hotels have been great, the service great and obviously the crowds in the game have been an excellent experience. It's been great, but I can't wait to get ready, get our season under way, to play for points. We're just excited to get to Stockholm."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 4:46 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Rangers fall to EV Zug, 8-4

ZUG, Switzerland -- Playing their fourth game in five nights in five different countries, the road-weary New York Rangers fell victim to Swiss club EV Zug on Monday, losing 8-4.

The Rangers trailed 3-1 late in the first period, but got goals from Mike Rupp and Artem Anisimov in the final 1:13 to end the period tied at 3-3.

However, a pair of former NHL players, Glen Metropolit and Josh Holden, scored 41 seconds apart to put the Swiss club up 5-3 after two periods. The Rangers didn't have the gas left in the tank to climb back into the game.

Check NHL.com for full game coverage as well as this blog for more notes about all the day's action.


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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential