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Grachev set to make NHL debut for Rangers

by Dan Rosen
NEW YORK -- Rangers coach John Tortorella said the reports out of Hartford on 20-year-old forward Evgeny Grachev weren't by any means glowing, but they were good enough that he was the guy that got the call to come play a Friday night game at Madison Square Garden.

Grachev will be making his NHL debut tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. He has only 1 goal and 1 assist in nine games with the Wolfpack, the Rangers' AHL affiliate, but with Derek Boogaard (infected finger) unable to go he'll get a shot playing on the fourth line with Todd White and Erik Christensen.

"I just want to see him play. I want to see what he can do," Tortorella said. "We've gotten some decent reports on him down there. I'm not sure where it'll all go as far as his ice time and play, but we need to take a look at him in this particular situation. I'm not looking for any one particular thing; he's going to speak to us with his play as far as where he has progressed to."

This is Grachev's second call-up to the big club, but after joining the Rangers in Washington on Oct. 8, 2009 he was made a healthy scratch because Ryan Callahan was able to fight through an ailing back and play in a 4-3 win over the Capitals. Grachev was returned to Hartford following the game.

While wearing his brand new No. 91 Rangers' sweater roughly two hours before the game, Grachev told MSG that he's trying not to get overly excited.

"I don't want to get too excited or nervous," Grachev said. "I'm not thinking about anything. I just want to get out there and play my best."

Tortorella particularly wants to see Grachev's strength on the puck. He said that was a topic of conversation with the young Russian during training camp and since he's 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, it's something he must have to forge an NHL career.

"He hasn't scored a bunch, but from a coach's point of view, for him to get some ice time in the National Hockey League game, he can't hurt you defensively or with turnovers," Tortorella said. "He's still just a kid and this gives him an opportunity here for us to look at him in a National Hockey League game -- regular season, not exhibition."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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