Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Boston calling: My dispatch from the morning skate
Well, hockey’s back bigtime in Boston. Huge media throng at TD Garden. Pressroom overflowing. Had to set up laptop on a cafeteria table.
Snapshot: One of the newest Blueshirts, veteran center Jeff Halpern, was all smiles walking off the ice on the rubber mats to the visiting locker room. Asked how he felt in a Rangers uniform. “Seems like it’s been like a new jersey for me at the start of every year,” he said, fingering the fabric. “I’ve got to look down and check where I am.” True: In 2009, Lightning; 2010, Canadiens; 2011, Capitals.
Like Halpern, everybody here seemed psyched just to be wearing an NHL jersey, gold, black, white, blue, and preparing to play again.
So let’s tee this up, post-morning skate:
The NYR lines, D and goal:
Healthy scratches: Gilroy, Eminger, Asham (suspension)
Ryan Callahan: “I think once you get that first period underneath your belt, give a hit, take a hit, you’ll sync into the game and get comfortable…You know it’s a good team, but no matter who we’re playing, it’s good to be back.”
Rick Nash on chemistry with Richards, Hagelin and feelings before his debut: “As long as each day gets better, that’s all you can ask for….There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves, I’ve just gotta keep things in control. Anytime you play an opener, there’s expectations and excitement.”
John Tortorella: “There’s always rust whenever you start a season. It’s a game of mistakes for everybody. We’ve had a good week; I’m not going to overthink it…We covered as much as we could, didn’t try to force too much, I hope; all the teams are in the same boat. We practiced enough; guys need to play a game.”
Tortorella on BC grad Chris Kreider: “I thought he skated well (in camp). In the time I was down in the American league, not a lot of guys were playing well, Chris being one of them. But you can’t make judgments on that. We know his strengths, guys like him and Hagelin in the lineup ups your team’s tempo.”
Torts on players deferring to Nash: “Not worried about deferring because of him. He’s going to fit in. We’re going to have to be a better team this year, other players are going to have to be better. People aren’t going to be looking to him (alone).”
Callahan on Nash: “We’re already coming in with expectations because of the way we played last season. When you add a guy like Rick, it brings more.” The toughest part of No. 61’s game? “I think his size, and how well he protects the puck.”
Here’s a sampling of quotes from B’s coach Claude Julien:
Hopes Bs will have more cohesion than Rangers: “We’re both starting at the same point, locked out for months, six days of camp; I liked this morning’s jump, yesterday’s day off probably helped…You have to keep the game simple; a lot of guys are not 100 percent as far as having their hands back.”
On need for consistency and: “You may see tonight in the third period that it gets worse.”
On facing Rangers: “Rather play one of the best teams in the conference than not….we go at it again on Wednesday.”
On rookie D Dougie Hamilton: “He’s still here, so he’s good enough to play…I don’t think he has a weakness except for lack of experience.”
On his goalie tandem of starter Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin: “Both know they will play at some point; no way you can rely on one with this schedule. There’s always inner competition, (but) both were very open to telling me that they were going to do whatever’s best for the team.”
One rule change/enforcement on faceoffs you might see this season: Minor penalty if a center uses hand to bat puck…
Remember: Puck drops here at 7 (MSGTV); NBC has Pens-Flyers on at 3….