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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 2:27 PM

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

Make that 2-0 Zug

ZUG, Switzerland -- There are goals Martin Biron never will forget, and while this only is a preseason game in Switzerland, he just gave one up that likely forever will be in his memory bank.

Biron flat-out fumbled a long shot by Duri Camichel. The puck fell to the ice and dribbled into the net 5:32 into the first period, giving EV Zug a 2-0 lead over the Rangers.

That was the kind of goal that just makes you cringe. Now Biron has to pick it up to help his team get back in the game.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 2:20 PM

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

Zug takes early 1-0 lead

ZUG, Switzerland -- Brandon Dubinsky got an extra penalty for roughing after a post-whistle skirmish with Timo Helbling and EV Zug made the Rangers pay. Esa Pirnes, who played for the Los Angeles Kings during the 2003-04 season, rifled a one-timer from the right circle over Martin Biron's shoulder and into the near corner just 1:18 into the game.

The Rangers now have trailed 1-0 in their last three preseason games here in Europe. They came back to win the other two.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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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 / 1:01 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Homecooking appeals to Buffalo

There was a little taste of home here for the Sabres on Monday morning.

Buffalo took the ice for Monday's practice at the SAP Arena and was surrounded by a sea of blue and yellow as fans which made the team-sponsored trip flocked to the open practice. They were joined there by fans of Adler Mannheim, the club team which Buffalo plays here in Tuesday night's Compuware Premiere Challenge exhibition, to make quite the festive scene that was nothing more than a traditional morning skate, featuring line rushes and shooting drills.

Yet, the fans cheered every move, including stickhandling drill in which each player had to navigate the puck through a line of closely spaced pucks. If the player failed, he had to start from the beginning again. The fans followed intently, loudly cheering each successful attempt and groaning with each failure.

"It made for a fun practice and a fun atmosphere," coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's funny how (the stickhandling drill) turned into something that fans kept an eye on. I think it created an extra pressure for the player trying to do it. Some passed the test and some got frustrated. It was fun."

The loudest cheer of the day, though, came in the dying minutes of the session when local-boy-done-good Jochen Hecht joined practice in time for the picture the team took with the 110 or so members of the fan club in attendance.

Hecht was held out of practice as he battles concussion-related symptoms and he won't play in Tuesday's NHL Premiere Challenge exhibition against Manheim, the team for which he turned pro almost 15 years ago. It was a bitter blow for both Hecht and the fans of Adler Mannheim, who have anticipated Tuesday's reunion for much of the past two months.

Despite the profound disappointment Hecht was feeling as he came to grips with the death of his dream to play before the Mannheim fans as a member of the Sabres, he said that Monday's reception by the fans certainly helped his spirits.

"It felt great of course," Hecht said. "Coming here and being able to say hello to the fans that don't get to see me during the summer. They want to show that I belong to them. This is my hometown. I used to be one of them sitting in the stands watching the team."

The practice ended with the fan club members being invited on to the ice for a picture with the team. Forty members of the fan club missed the practice after they were delayed in the United States. They are expected to arrive Tuesday morning. After the picture, the players stayed on the ice and mingled with the fans.

"It tells a lot about our fans that they travelled all this way," Ruff said. "It was nice to give them a little something extra. The 10 minutes of interaction we had on the ice was great for our fans. I think that part of it is really important and I think the players enjoy it too."

Young defenseman Tyler Myers agreed. He stayed on the ice longer than many of his teammates, signing banners and photos and taking pictures with fans.

"Today was kind of cool," Myers told NHL.com. "It was unexpected, for sure. When you get that many fans out there, it makes it a lot of fun. The fans are a big part of what we do. They fuel the fire."

 

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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 12:54 PM

By Andrew Gordon -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Andrew Gordon Player Blog

Adjusting to life in Finland

Hello everyone, this is Andrew Gordon and I'm going to be blogging about what me and my team, the Anaheim Ducks, are doing this week while we're in Helsinki, Finland. This is my first year with the Ducks and I am really excited to be here this week.

We had a long trip to get here, even longer than the ones the other guys that have played with the Ducks before are used to. The preparation started right after the game Friday night at home (against Los Angeles). I spent a lot of time before talking to some of the European guys. Jonas Hiller especially -- I made him my European liaison.

He said to sleep as little as possible Friday night so that I can just crash out the whole way here (on Saturday). But since we had two flight legs to get here -- one from L.A. to New York and one from New York to here -- he said do not sleep on that first flight so hopefully your body will just shut down the whole way here from New York. That way, you get virtually a full night's sleep and get here in the morning ready to go.

I did the opposite. I fell asleep for pretty much the whole first flight from L.A. to New York, and then I was awake just pretty much staring out the window from New York to Helsinki. I had to battle yesterday and stay up the whole day. Luckily, we had some activities.

We came right here (to Hartwall Areena) for practice. Nobody was real crisp, but it is always good to get the travel legs out when you get off a long flight or a bus trip. That was good, and from there we went and had lunch. The first thing I had once I got to lunch was some reindeer sausage. I ate a little bit of reindeer because that's one of the cultural things you're supposed to do when you're here. I wanted to check that off the list early.
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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 12:34 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Sleep issues remain for Sabres

Alarm clocks were a necessity Monday morning for the Buffalo Sabres.

The trans-Atlantic flight did serious damage to the internal clock of some of the players.

"I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep," defenseman Tyler Myers said.

Rookie Luke Adam said he was up from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. before finally falling back asleep.

"When my alarm finally went off, it felt like it was 2 a.m.," Adam told NHL.com

Even Christian Ehrhoff, a native of Gemany who makes the flight on a regular basis, admitted to struggling a bit with jet lag on Monday afternoon.

Coach Lindy Ruff, though, was happy the sleeping struggles did not manifest themselves in Monday's practice session.

"I thought the guys looked pretty good this morning," Ruff said. "I thought their jump was good and I think going into tomorrow's game it will give us another measure of the energy of our team."


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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 12:31 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Ruff expects stern challenge from Mannheim

Lindy Ruff expects the best out of Adler Mannheim in Tuesday's Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge game at SAP Arena.

After all, Mannheim gave the San Jose Sharks all they could handle in an exhibition here last October. San Jose eventually prevailed, 3-2, in the shootout, but not before being pushed to the limit by a quick and hungry home team.

"I think it is going to be a highly competitive game judging by the fact that last year they played San Jose and almost beat San Jose," Ruff said after Monday's practice. "They can skate and they have some guys that can shoot. They have a lot of pride and I think any time you get to play a team from the NHL and you can knock them off, that is a feather in your cap. So, I think the game is going to be real competitive."

That's a situation that suits Ruff just fine. Just three days removed from the start of the team's regular season -- a NHL Premiere game against Anaheim in Helsinki, Finland -- Ruff believes his team can use a spirited final tune-up.

"It's a good environment for us," he said. "I think a real competitive game is a good environment for us. To play under the gun and to play against guys that are competing really hard and they are not teammates, it's a good tune-up for starting the season."

With that said, Ruff isn't committing to his starting lineup for Tuesday's game.

Backup goalie Jhonas Enroth will get the start after starter Ryan Miller went the distance in Saturday night's preseason game against Washington back in the United States.

"We want to get (Enroth) some work," Ruff said.

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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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Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level