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Morning Skate in D.C.: Falk Replaces Ill Del Zotto

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

Justin Falk admitted Wednesday morning that it's been difficult coming to a new team and then having to watch from the press box for much of the start to the season. Tonight, though, he will get his chance at a regular shift as Falk takes the ill Michael Del Zotto's spot on the lineup when the Rangers skate against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.

"I am excited about tonight to be a part of everything, and get back into that feeling that you love to have of going to war with these guys," Falk told following the morning skate in Washington. "You come in here and want to show these guys what I can do, and battle for them, put myself on the line to play well and play strong. I am just real excited to get into a game here and to really feel a part of things."

Falk, who appeared in 108 games over the previous four seasons with the Minnesota Wild, was acquired by the Rangers in a trade this past summer, nd he made his Ranger debut in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Blues when head coach Alain Vigneault decided to dress seven defensmen.

After logging only 5:18 worth of ice time Saturday, Falk will skate a regular shift with a set defense partner---John Moore---against the Capitals.

"It'll be a whole lot easier tonight, you know who your partner is, there's a regular rotation," said Falk. "It's been tough, never fun watching from the stands, but you understand and keep yourself well-prepared for an opportunity like this."

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder will be expected to play to his strengths tonight, most notably taking the body against a highly-skilled, yet equally physical, Caps squad. Clearly the coaching staff will be watching closely and Falk will be trying to impress.

"With his skill-set, which is a decent skill-set, for him to stay in this league he has to bring an edge to his game," Vigneault said of Falk. "Everybody brings something different, and in his case he has to be dependabe one on one, and he needs to be physical."

Del Zotto did not travel with the team to Washington. He remained back in New York trying to recover from a case of the flu, which kept him off ice Tuesday, as well.

Vigneault stated that with Del Zotto not playing Wednesday, John Moore would get the opportunity to man one of the points on the team's top power play unit, alongside Brad Richards.

"We like a lot of things about his game--he has a good shot...and with John there we think it'll give us a real good shot from the point," explained Vigneault. "He did it a little bit last year, and we were told he did well when he was used there last year, so we're going to use him."

The 22 year-old Moore has been held without a point in five games this season and is just 3-11-14 over 104 NHL games, but his hard accurate shot, elite skating skill, and smarts have the Rangers and other NHL experts pedicting a bright offensive future for him.

The Rangers power play has converted at 23.5 percent so far this season, scoring four times on 17 chances. Two of those power play goals have come during 5-on-3 opportunities.

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