Former Rangers Prucha, Korpikoski miss New York
"Too hot," the Czech-born Prucha said before last night's game at the Garden. "It takes your energy away. I stay inside."
Korpikoski, who was born in Finland, said the major differences that he noticed after the summer trade from New York is that Scottsdale is "so quiet" and the temperature can hit 116 degrees.
For Prucha, a speedy, gutsy player, New York was a delight - except at the end of his stay. An eighth-round draft pick in 2002, Prucha scored 30 and 22 goals in his first two seasons with the Rangers, but only 63 overall from 2005-06 through last season when he was phased out by then-coach Tom Renney. He was traded to Phoenix along with Nigel Dawes (now with Calgary) and Dmitri Kalinin for Derek Morris on March 4.
Prucha, 27, misses the New York weather - and lifestyle. "All the older players tell you how great it is to play in New York and I'm happy I had the chance, " he said. "It was perfect."
But, in the last two years, he added, "There was lots of pressure. Even when I thought I had a good game I would be out of the lineup again." In Phoenix, "it's unbelievable, you can finally play again . . . I hope I have a year like the first one [I had] here." So far, playing with Czech linemates Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal, he has two goals and an assist in nine games.
Korpikoski, 23, a 2004 first-rounder who is playing on the fourth line and hasn't registered a point in the six games in which he appeared, was surprised by the July trade, which brought Enver Lisin here.
When the call came, Korpikoski was in Finland. "I didn't expect it, it came out of nowhere, it was weird," said Korpikoski, who played only 68 regular-season games and had 14 points as a Ranger after two full seasons with the Hartford Wolf Pack. "It came so fast." Told that coach John Tortorella wanted more offense, he said, "True statement, I didn't have big numbers."
During the first TV timeout, the Garden paid a warm tribute to Bill Chadwick, the former NHL referee and Rangers broadcaster for 14 years, who died Saturday at 94. The montage included Chadwick wearing a Rovers jersey, as a ref animatedly penalizing Phil Esposito and one of his signature calls. Over footage of Barry Beck scoring, Chadwick intoned: "Shoot the puck, Barry, shoot the puck. That's what he did." . . . With Donald Brashear back from soreness (widely believed to be his hand), Aaron Voros was a healthy scratch for the fifth time. Tortorella said he told Voros "that's the world he's living in now." Brashear had his first assist on Artem Anismov's goal at 2:31 of the first.