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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 9:21 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Under Pressure: 5 Players Feeling the Heat

5. Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver Canucks: Luongo was outplayed by Tim Thomas in the Final. He was pulled from games [and passed up for starts] earlier in the playoffs. So is the year that Luongo shows he is as great as we thought he could be or does he show he is one of most overrated goalies?

I think he has lost the invicibility tag. He has a lot of flaws in his game. We can see that now.

Goaltenders feel the most pressure of any position. If a forward makes a mistake, the defensemen can pick him up. If a D-man makes a mistake, the goalie can make up for it. If the goalie makes a mistake, the puck is in the net. Plus, the goalie plays the entire 60 minutes. Luongo will be feeling the pressure in goal this season.

4. Dany Heatley, LW, Minnesota Wild: Heatley had a terrible regular season and playoffs last year. Now he’s going to Minnesota. The Wild gave up their best player to get Heatley.

Heatley is going to a hockey place, where everybody knows you. I think that will be good for Dany. He has to respond to the pressure and I think he will. Minnesota need goals. Look where Heatley played his best–in Ottawa, another hockey place where everybody knows you. Some guys need the fear of pressure of performing. Heatley is one of those guys.
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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 Monday, 10.03.2011 / 3:00 AM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Under Pressure: 5 Teams with Most to Gain/Lose

5. Chicago Blackhawks: Did this team learn from last season, when it went from winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 to being very lucky to make the playoffs? This year we find out which is the real Chicago Blackhawks team – the Cup contender or simply a playoff team?
 
I think the Blackhawks learned a lot from last year. They picked up grittier players during the offseason. They found a goalie in Corey Crawford, who is coming off a stellar season.  They have great young talent. We'll see if they can return to Stanley Cup winning form.
 
Brad Richards
Center - NYR
GOALS: 28 | ASST: 49 | PTS: 77
SOG: 272 | +/-: 1
4. New York Rangers: The Rangers front office decided the team needed a scorer, so they signed Marian Gaborik. There was the Wade Redden thing before that. The team throws money at its problems. That's a list: the top five Rangers acquisitions that didn't work out.
 
Now the Rangers have signed Brad Richards for a ton of money, figuring he is a forward who has won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy. Richards will play with Gaborik.
 
It's time for the Rangers to quit finishing as an also-ran. I like the way this team has been built from within. It has one of the best goaltenders in the world. We will find out if Henrik Lundqvist is as good as he is billed. It is easy to be good as a goalie. The great goalies win.
 
People are always saying the Rangers need to score goals in front of Lundqvist. This team can score goals.
 
3. Philadelphia Flyers: This is a team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. The Flyers lost their top goal scorer and traded away another top scorer. They gave the team to Chris Pronger. It's his team and his locker room now. We will see how that turns out.
 
I like the Max Talbot pick-up. I think Philly will be better with him and Pittsburgh (a division and conference rival) is going to miss him, maybe more than realized. Brayden Schenn is a young player everybody agrees was the best player not in the NHL last year. He will have some pressure on him because he was traded for Mike Richards, the captain.
 
You can't say this is a team without a goaltender. Ilya Bryzgalov is a winner. I like this team a lot.
 
There's tons of pressure on Pronger. There was clearly tension in the locker room last season. Now Pronger gets control.
 
Brent Burns
Defense - SJS
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 46
SOG: 170 | +/-: -10
2. San Jose Sharks: Every year, San Jose is one of the most talented teams. The Sharks made some big changes during offseason, especially getting Brent Burns. He's a big defenseman who will play a ton of minutes.
 
Pretty soon the Sharks will have to win. Side by side, who's better on paper – San Jose or Boston? You would have to say San Jose, right? Well, this team has never even been to the Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks have to show they can win and will be feeling the pressure this season.

1. Washington Capitals:
The Caps situation is very similar to San Jose. This is the most talented team in the NHL, yet last spring the Caps lost four straight to Tampa Bay.
 
They made a lot of changes, picking up veterans players for the playoffs, but the core is the same. The core will be feeling the pressure.
 
Washington acquired a veteran goalie, so there are no excuses about the goaltender, a lot like the Flyers. If this team doesn't make the Final, heads will roll.  Talent-wise, on paper, this is the League's best team. But it hasn't come close to getting in position to win a Cup.
 
Alex Ovechkin wants to be recognized as the greatest player in the world. But Sidney Crosby has a won a Stanley Cup. Crosby has won a gold medal. Ovi will be feeling the pressure to win. No one wants to be the Best Player Not to Win a Stanley Cup.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 5:52 PM

NHL.com - Roster Call

Roster Call for October 2, 2011

The following NHL teams have announced the following roster moves today.

  Carolina Hurricanes

Re-assigned to AHL: Drayson Bowman.

  Colorado Avalanche

Re-assigned to AHL: Tyson Barrie, Patrick Bordeleau, Trevor Cann, Brad Malone.

  Dallas Stars

Re-assigned to AHL: Richard Bachman, Maxime Fortunus, Eric Godard, Travis Morin, Ray Sawada, Colton Sceviour, Francis Wathier.

  New York Islanders

Re-assigned to AHL: Sean Backman, Casey Cizikas, Justin DiBenedetto, Brett Gallant, Tomas Marcinko, Tyler McNeely, Tony Romano, David Ullstrom,Tim Wallace, Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Anton Klementyev, Aaron Ness, Benn Olson, Mikko Koskinen, Anders Nilsson, Kevin Poulin, Micheal Haley.

  Toronto Maple Leafs

Re-assigned to AHL: Ben Scrivens.

  Winnipeg Jets

Re-assigned to AHL: Paul Postma, Jason Gregoire.
Released: Janne Pesonen.
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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.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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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.

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

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery