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Victoria Cup is special for Zherdev, Kalinin

by Dan Rosen
BERN, Switzerland — The idea just popped into Chris Drury's head. "Tree" and "Nikky," that's who it should be.

When the IIHF asked Rangers assistant captains Drury, Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund who was going to accept the Victoria Cup at center ice, Drury thought only of the two players this game meant the most to.

Nikolai Zherdev and Dmitri Kalinin.

Zherdev is a native of Kiev, Ukraine. Kalinin is from Chelyabinsk, Russia, the home base for Metallurg Magnitogorsk — the team he played for during the lockout season of 2004-05.

"Me and Gomer made (the decision) right on the spot," Drury said. "He said Nassy (Naslund) right away because he's kind of our elder statesman, I guess. Right away it popped in my head, 'What about Nikky and Tree?' I'm sure it was a hard game for them to play. Tree played for that team during the lockout. As much as we wanted to win, they really wanted to win."
After every player on both teams accepted a medal for participating in the Victoria Cup, the arena went dark, spotlights started twirling around from above and Zherdev and Kalinin accepted the trophy together with U2's Vertigo playing in the background.

The Rangers took a team photo with the Victoria Cup on ice and then skated over to center ice to give the fans a stick salute. From there, they left the ice and started packing for Prague.

"There was a lot of energy in the building," game-winning goal hero Ryan Callahan said. "It didn't feel like a preseason game to us."
Bolts' update — According to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times, it appears that Tampa Bay Lightning enforcer David Koci, a native of Prague, will make the team and could play in the season opener Saturday at the O2 Arena.

"He's been great," Lightning coach Barry Melrose told Cristodero, who has been traveling with the Bolts in Europe. "He's one of those players you have to have on your team. He lets your star players sleep at night."

Tampa Bay finished its preseason with a 5-1 record after beating Slovakian powerhouse HC Slovan, 3-2 in a shootout in Bratislava on Tuesday.

Vincent Lecavalier scored the game-tying goal with 6:26 to play in regulation and then got the winner in the shootout. Lecavalier, whose preseason debut came only two nights before in the Bolts' 4-1 win over Eisbaren Berlin, appears ready to start the season despite worries that his surgically repaired shoulder wouldn't be ready for full contact.

Tuesday night's game "was a great test," Lecavalier said. "It was kind of a perfect progression. The last game wasn't physical at all. This game was more physical, a better game, a tighter game. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."

Power play clicking — The opponents weren't from the NHL, but the Rangers don't care. Eight power-play goals in two games is a confidence-builder, no matter what team you're playing or what league they're from.

The Rangers scored six power-play goals in nine chances against SC Bern on Tuesday night and added another two in nine chances Wednesday. They'd like their 5-on-5 play to be better, but the power-play is sizzling.

"The detractors will say it's not the NHL, it's two European teams, but it certainly beats the alternative of going into the season cold on the power play," Drury said. "It's something (assistant coach) Perry Pearn works hard on. He always wants us sharp and that's good."
Rissmiller overcomes — Rangers forward Patrick Rissmiller was back on the ice Wednesday, and prior to the game against Metallurg Magnitogorsk said he thinks he had finally gotten over the stomach bug that has limited him since the team arrived here Sunday morning.

"I feel better today than yesterday," Rissmiller said. "It's been a few days and I have no idea where it came from. As soon as we showed up here, I've been dealing with it. I don't know what it is. I felt sick and dehydrated."

The Rangers signed Rissmiller to a one-year contract over the summer. He was hoping to play Tuesday night against SC Bern, but his stomach ailment wouldn't allow him to go.

"I was weak and dehydrated, but I wanted to play," he said. "It wasn't a fever and I definitely feel better now."
Champions League unveiled — The IIHF held a press conference prior to Wednesday night's game with president Rene Fasel and representatives from sponsors Ovation Sports and Reebok to unveil the new European Champions Hockey League.

The European Champions Hockey League is a new format designed by the IIHF to crown an overall champion among the European club teams. Twelve teams from seven different countries will be competing this season.

"I've been asked what I think of the success of the new Champions Hockey League," Fasel said in his opening remarks. "It's not depending on us, but the fans and you the media, if you like the product or if you don't like the product. I hope the fans appreciate what we're doing … just trying to put find the best team in Europe."

Reebok unveiled what the jerseys will look like, and Fasel said he was pleased that there are no advertisements doctoring the jerseys. Most European club teams have ads on their jerseys, pants and helmets as well as many along the dasher boards.

"You can see there are no commercials on the jerseys," Fasel said. "You can find jerseys in some leagues with over 20 different sponsors. It's not what we like to have."
Renney likes competition — Always the diplomatic type, Rangers coach Tom Renney said both Corey Potter and Brian Fahey are still very much in competition for what appears to be the one remaining roster spot on the blue line.
"It's too early to tell," Renney said. "They're in the blender."

Neither Potter nor Fahey played Wednesday in the Rangers' final preseason game, but Potter left a lasting impression Tuesday night against SC Bern. He scored a goal and dished out an assist, although the IIHF did not list assists on the final stat sheet.

"I thought he was steady," Renney said. "I thought he was good."

Since Renney said the Rangers plan to carry seven defensemen, either Potter or Fahey will be re-assigned by Friday. The Rangers will also have to re-assign another forward and goalie Miika Wiikman to Hartford of the AHL trim their roster to 23 players.
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