Newbury makes his Rangers debut

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) makes a

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) makes a save against New York Rangers' Kris Newbury (45) as Canadiens' Yaroslav Spacek defends during the third period. (Jan. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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MONTREAL - He's played in outposts such as Sarnia, Ontario, St. John's, Newfoundland and even in Pensacola, Fla. for six games in 2004 in the ECHL. He's also played in larger locales, such as Toronto and Detroit.

At 28, center Kris Newbury has been around the block.

As a Maple Leaf for parts of the 2007-08 season (he played 28 games), Newbury also played at the Bell Centre, where he made his Rangers debut Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's huge, the crowd's really into it. It's an exciting place to play for me" said Newbury, who was born in Brampton, Ontario, about 15 miles west of Toronto.

Newbury, acquired from Detroit in exchange for Jordan Owens last March, was called up from the AHL Connecticut Whale after winger Alex Frolov tore up his knee in St. Louis last Saturday, an injury that ended his season.

Newbury seemed to be a logical short-term replacement, but when defenseman Michal Rozsival was shipped to Phoenix for 24-year-old forward Wojtek Wolski two days later, Newbury was the odd man out.

Newbury, who is 4-3-7 in 48 NHL games in his career, sat out the next two games, against Montreal and Vancouver at Madison Square Garden. But Saturday night, Tortorella decided to give him a shot, and benched 22-year-old right wing Dale Weise, who had dressed for the last seven games.

"You just try to work hard every day and when I did get called up, it was unexpected," said Newbury, the Whale's leading scorer with five goals and a team-high 30 assists and 35 points in 41 games. He also had 87 penalty minutes.

He hadn't played in a week, but Newbury said it will not be an issue. "Staying ready is the biggest thing," he said.

Newbury is far from a shrinking violet: He has surpassed 100 penalty minutes five times in the minors, and registered 215 during 2005-06, his best season for the AHL Toronto Marlies, when he scored 22 goals and 60 points.

"He adds a little bite," said Tortorella, who started the 5-11, 213-pound Newbury between Chris Drury, who moved from the pivot to right wing, and left wing Sean Avery. "Weise has played pretty well, I just want to see Newbury," Tortorella said. "He's a center whose done some things faceoff-wise and scored some points in the American League."

"I'm just looking to create some energy," Newbury said. "I'll try to win some faceoffs . . . I do what I do, getting on the body when I can and just playing a good defensive game. The big key for me is to stay out of the penalty box, so if I can do that, I'll be happy. I'll just work hard and let the pieces fall where they may."

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