• Game Notes
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
It will be a homecoming of sorts tonight in Pittsburgh for Rangers forwards Ruslan Fedotenko
and Erik Christensen, a;though the locale will not be so familiar to either player when they skate against the Penguins.
Fedotenko, who helped the Penguins capture the Stanley Cup two years ago, played the past two seasons in Pittsburgh before signing with the Rangers as a free agent this past fall. At today’s morning skate he was greeted warmly by his former teammates out on the ice of the CONSOL Energy Center, the Penguins brand-new home.
|Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko is no stranger to Pittsburgh, having spent two seasons on the Pens' roster and winning the Stanley Cup there in 2009. |
“I was excited to see those guys, and it was great to chat for a little bit,” said Fedotenko, who has three goals, six assists, and nine points in 17 games so far with the Rangers this season. “And I think this building is amazing. It’s awesome for the fans to watch the game.”
Christensen was drafted by the Penguins in the third round back in 2002 and broke into the NHL with Pittsburgh during the 2005-06 season. Before being moved to Atlanta two years later, Christensen played in 143 games with the Penguins.
Although he has returned to play against Pittsburgh many times since, Christensen said this morning that it is always special for him to come in and face-off against the Penguins.
“They’re the team that drafted me, and one of my favorite memories is getting the chance to play with Mario Lemieux when I first got into the league,” said Christensen, who earned three assists in the Rangers 8-2 win over Edmonton yesterday afternoon. “We had some good teams. When I came in it was Sidney Crosby’s first year, and then (Evgeni) Malkin came the next year. I really always liked the city, and the fans were always great. But I will miss the old building. Mellon Arena had some great memories for me.”
Christensen also shared the fact that his former teammate Jordan Staal -- brother of the Rangers’ Marc -- currently rents the house he bought when he used to play with the Penguins.
“I get Marc to let me know how Jordan is doing on his rent,” Christensen said jokingly.Lundqvist returns to his starting role; Boogaard out
After missing the last two games while battling the flu, Henrik Lundqvist
makes the start in goal for the Rangers this evening. Although he said at the morning skate in Pittsburgh that he still is not quite 100 percent, Lundqvist also made it clear that he is healthy enough to play.
|After battling an illness for a few days, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is ready to make his return to the net tonight vs. the Pens at Pittsburgh. |
“There shouldn’t be any excuses,” said Lundqvist. “I am going out there to play and I have to be ready.”
Entering this season, Lundqvist had faced the Penguins more times, 32, than any other NHLteam. He is 16-12-4 all-time vs. the Pens with a 2.43 goals against average -- extremely respectable numbers when considering the explosive offensive players Pittsburgh always has on its roster.
“Their top line, obviously, is the difference much of the time for them, and their power play is always good,” said Lundqvist. “In tight games, the top players quite often make the difference. And they have the top of the top. That’s the biggest challenge facing our team tonight.”
Rangers head coach John Tortorella said this morning that it will take a complete team effort to shut down the high-flying Pens tonight.
“They have some pretty good players over there, and they are a team that is finding its way recently,” Tortorella said of the Penguins. “It’s a test for our whole team because we have to play team defense.”
Tortorella also mentioned that rugged winger Derek Boogaard will not be able to play tonight because his right hand is very sore after engaging in two heavyweight fights with Edmonton’s Steve MacIntyre on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
“His hand is messed up from all the work he did (yesterday),” said Tortorella. “It’s pretty messed up right now, at least for tonight.”