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• Game Notes
• Rangers Add Wolski in Deal with Phoenix
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
When the Rangers take to the ice to host the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden this evening they could have one, or possibly two, players making his debut wearing the famed Blueshirt.
With Alex Frolov lost to season-ending knee surgery after being injured in Saturday night’s game against the Blues in St. Louis, the Rangers added two players to the roster to fill the void.
The team’s immediate move was to recall Kris Newbury from the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, on Sunday. Then on Monday, Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather made a more dramatic move, acquiring the highly-skilled Wojtek Wolski from Phoenix in exchange for veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival.
Both of the newcomers will be available tonight, with Rangers head coach John Tortorella still to make up his mind as to who will be in his lineup.
“This is our team, so we keep playing, and we’ve done a good job of that all year long,” Tortorella said of how the Rangers deal with the rash of injuries that has ravaged the club. “Let’s face it, it’s been a year of some major injuries for us this year, but we can’t let that affect us. And it hasn’t, and it won’t.”
Through 43 games this season, the Rangers have lost 137 man-games to injury. Frolov now joins three other veteran forwards -- Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal, and Derek Boogaard -- on the sidelines unable to play.
Yet despite all of the injuries this season, the Rangers have persevered and established a gritty never-quit attitude which has resulted in an impressive 25-15-3 record and 53 points.
“The guys who have been called up have done great, and the guys who have been given more responsibility have handled it real well,” said team captain Chris Drury, who himself has missed 31 games due to injury this season. “Torts has us -- no matter who’s in or who’s out of the lineup -- knowing how hard we have to play to have success. And we choose to play hard. That’s a big thing.”
With veterans and youngsters alike choosing to buy in to the team’s winning formula, Wolski and Newbury will be expected to follow suit when they don the Rangers sweater.
Wolski, 24, notched a career-high 65 points while splitting last season with the Avalanche and Coyotes. He scored a career-best 23 goals a year ago, and added another four goals and five points in seven playoff games for Phoenix.
This season Wolski, a first-round pick of the Avalanche back in 2004, has scored six goals and recorded 16 points in 36 games.
“The opportunity to do something here with a 24 year-old guy that has been an obvious goal-scorer and has pretty high talent, we just thought it was too good an opportunity to turn down,” Sather said of Wolski after making the trade on Monday afternoon. “We’ve been interested in him for awhile and are happy to get him.”
Wolski, who was born in Poland and raised in Canada, stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 215 pounds. The Rangers are intrigued by his size as well as his considerable skill level, which included a pair of 20-goal seasons in the NHL already.
“He’s a skillful player,” said Sather. “He’s got all the talent in the world and the opportunity is here for him to play in a pretty good position. And we look forward to seeing him play.”
Newbury, 28, has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level, including four last season with the Red Wings -- a stint that saw him score his fourth career goal.
This season with the Whale, Newbury has five goals, 35 assists, and 40 points.
“It’s exciting because as a hockey player you always want to play at the highest level,” said Newbury. “Now that you get here you want to do everything you can to make an impression to stay longer. I look forward to doing that every night.”
Along with carrying a bit of a new look into this evening’s important match-up of Eastern Conference, and Original Six, foes, the Rangers will also be toting a three-game winning streak after reeling off a trio of one-goal victories over Carolina, Dallas, and St. Louis in the past week. A win this evening would mark the Blueshirts’ first four-game winning streak of the season.
The Rangers will also be bringing some renewed confidence on home ice into the game tonight. The Rangers, now 10-8-2 at The Garden, are 4-0-1 in their last five home matches.
“You certainly want to play good and feel good at home,” said Drury. “That’s an important thing throughout the year. You want to leave the ice feeling good in front of your own fans. I think we’ve been playing well at home, and hopefully that will continue.”
Tonight’s game will the first of two this week for the Rangers against the Canadiens. After hosting the Vancouver Canucks at MSG on Thursday, the Rangers will travel to Montreal for a Hockey Night in Canada showdown on Saturday with the Canadiens.
“Obviously that is a very talented and well-coached team there in Montreal,” said Drury. “There’s no doubt that we’re going to have to be ready.”
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