Rangers farm team in playoff semis

Ryan Bourque #17 of the Connecticut Whale skates

Ryan Bourque #17 of the Connecticut Whale skates with the puck during the second period. (Nov. 2, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

While all eyes are naturally focused on the big club, the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' top affiliate, is sailing along in the AHL playoffs.

With a mix of vets and some promising youngsters, Connecticut is 4-1 in the postseason, including a three-game, first-round sweep of the Islanders' affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Norfolk Admirals, the AHL's top club during the season with 113 points, are today and tomorrow.

"[The Admirals] had won 28 in a row to end the season and we beat them in Game 1," the team's general manager Jim Schoenfeld, who also is the Rangers assistant GM, told Newsday. "That's something. It's not our same team that started the season, we've added some guys who are playing well."

Schoenfeld mentioned goaltender Cam Talbot, (4-1, 1.69 GAA and .956 save percentage) who has surpassed incumbent Chad Johnson; defenseman Tim Erixon, who has seen time on Broadway, and forward Marek Hrivik ("pronounced like 'terrific', Schoenfeld said), but stopped there, saying he was sure to miss someone. "It's really been a complete team effort."

Hrivik, a 6-2, undrafted Slovakian winger who signed a tryout deal on April 30, has five goals and an assist in the last four games; Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, who compiled 64 points in the regular season, has two goals; Casey Wellman (acquired from the Wild for Erik Christensen) has a goal and four assists and 2011 first-round draft pick J.T. Miller netted his first pro point with an assist.

Schoenfeld, who visits Hartford, frequently during the season deferred credit: "[Head coach] Kenny [Gernander], J.J. [Daigneault] and Pat [Boller, assistants] have done a great job there."

 

Rangers ties to Coyotes

Of the teams vying for the Western Conference title, the Phoenix Coyotes have the most ties to the Rangers.

DON MALONEY

General manager played 11 years for the Blueshirts, from 1978 to 1989, scoring 20-plus goals five times. The brother of former captain Dave Maloney also was vice-president of player personnel and an assistant general manager from 1996 to 2007.

MICHAL ROZSIVAL

Signed as a free agent after the lockout and played here until Jan. 10, 2011, when he was traded to Phoenix for Wojtek Wolski. He ended the Rangers longest home playoff game since 1971 by scoring on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller on April 29, 2007, at 16:43 of the second OT.

LAURI KORPIKOSKI

Former 2004 first-round draft pick who scored his first NHL goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Penguins on May 4, 2008. The Finnish forward was traded in July 2009 to the Coyotes for Enver Lisin.

DEREK MORRIS

Defenseman acquired from Coyotes at the 2009 trade deadline for Petr Prucha, Dmitri Kalinin and Nigel Dawes.

TAYLOR PYATT

Grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, home of Marc Staal. His brother, Tom, was drafted by the Rangers in 2005, and was part of the Scott Gomez trade to Montreal in June 2009 when the Blueshirts acquired Ryan McDonagh.

 

Anisimov family sojourn

The hardest thing for Artem Anisimov about Wednesday's lengthy triple overtime win in Washington was knowing that the best-laid plans of his parents, who were visiting from Russia, and his girlfriend, were ruined.

"They drove down from New York and were waiting and waiting to see me after the game, longer and longer" Anisimov said, shaking his head. "And then they had to drive back at 1 in the morning."

The trio also came to see Game 4 yesterday. "This time, no driving," he said. "The train."

 

Feds dropping pucks

Ruslan Fedotenko played temporary linesman on Friday, dropping pucks at center ice for faceoff practice, and feigned some anger when asked if he was prepping for a second career. "You're trying to run me out of town already?" said Fedotenko, 33, who will be a free agent. "Can't I finish the season? All I was doing was trying to help and you're pushing me out? [Brian] Boyle was complaining about how I was dropping the puck, anyway."

 

Biron's critique

Meet Martin Biron, movie critic. Biron, Henrik Lundqvist and Chris Kreider went to see "Hunger Games" on Thursday. Kreider said he wasn't crazy about the cast, and Biron was tossing rotten tomatoes at the whole film. "It was just okay, like a cross between 'The Running Man' and 'The Truman Show,' but not as good. The premise wasn't believable, some parts were too graphic -- with the book you can use your imagination -- and it looked like they rushed the ending to try to wrap things up in a hurry. I want to go see the Avengers."

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