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Rangers eager for nationwide play on NBC

by Dan Rosen /

Rangers' forward Brandon Dubinsky is excited that his family and friends back home will get a rare chance to see him play on Sunday against the Boston Bruins
Brandon Dubinsky has been fielding calls from back home this week as giddy friends and family members just have to tell the New York Rangers rookie what he already knows.

“I have already spoken to a few people back home that said, ‘Hey, your game is on NBC this weekend, we’re going to get a chance to watch you,’ ” Dubinsky told

Dubinsky’s followers in the northwest actually got a chance to watch their favorite young center once last season, too, when he was up with the Rangers for a March 11 game against Carolina that was televised live on NBC.

On Sunday, though, Dubinsky figures to play a more prominent role when the Rangers host the Boston Bruins in NBC’s NHL “Game of the Week” at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Dubinsky centers New York’s third line, between fellow rookie Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha. What safely can be called the Rangers’ energy line provided a needed lift in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres as Dubinsky and Prucha scored the goals.

“Hockey is pretty big up in Alaska, so a lot of people do subscribe to the NHL Center Ice package, but at the same time there are a lot of people that can’t afford it,” said Dubinsky, who also will participate in the YoungStars Game next weekend during the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills Competition. “Being on a national channel, it’ll be nice for them to get to watch me play.”

Dubinsky isn’t the lone Ranger hoping to impress the folks back home.

Ryan Hollweg, who played in all four Ranger regular-season games on NBC last season (New York was 4-0), has friends and family in Downey, Calif. who eagerly are anticipating the game, even if it means getting up for the 9:30 a.m. PT opening faceoff.

“For the most part you’re just focusing on the game and getting a win,” Hollweg told “Definitely it means more knowing my family out west can catch the game, because for the most part they don’t have the NHL package. That is important to me.”

Sunday’s game figures to whet the appetite of every sports fan across North America, but especially the ones stationed on couches or in bars in New England and the New York metropolitan area.

With the New England Patriots and New York Giants playing for Super Bowl berths later in the day in the AFC and NFC Championship games, it’s fitting the Bruins and Rangers kick off what will be one of the most memorable sports days of the year.

“Whenever you know the country is going to be watching, definitely you get jacked up,” Rangers defenseman Paul Mara told “It’s 12:30 on a Sunday, right before football, so you know people are in that sport mode. Everyone definitely gets a little more jazzed up for it. It is a treat. I wish we could have NBC all year. People that are just flipping through the channels will see a hockey game and they’ll watch a bit of it.”

The game also is on the back end of a home-and-home weekend series between the Rangers and Bruins, and that usually results in some extra work for the on-ice officials.

Couple the spillover from Saturday’s game with a battle for another two huge points between a pair of teams fighting for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, and you could see some pretty entertaining television Sunday afternoon.

“That’s one of the great things about the home-and-home rivalries,” Hollweg said. “That second game, you’re probably a little ticked off or have some scores to settle. It’s a six-period game.”

“There could be some bitterness,” added Mara.

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