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Game Day, 1 p.m.

Classic line this morning form my sleepy old-school wife when I tell her about the events in the Bronx last night: "Good thing Steinbrenner's not around."

Well, one good thing, hey forget that, great thing, there's hockey, and I dearly wish I was in Stockholm, was all booked but a unexpected medical detour kept me from flying (and sampling reindeer I guess, till next October, when the Rangers will be in Europe again). But I'll be at the practices this week, on the road trip West and beyond, so away we go.

It all starts this afternoon against the Kings and tomorrow against the Ducks and I think the Rangers will be happy to flee Europe with a split. Three points would be a great sendoff. 

So rookie Tim Erixon starts today, with Steve Eminger on the third d-pair. Newest Rangers Jeff Woywitka (as some wag on my Twitter stream noted (rhymes with "Toy Ditka", goot alove my eruidte followers) not set for today. but Henrik Lundqvist is pumped, and focused, as he told the media numerous times during the past few weeks. An awful lot rides on him, as usual, especially in Marc Staal's absence.

The lines, other d-pairs (to start):

Dubinsky-Richards-Gaborik; Fedotenko-Anisimov-Callahan; Wolski-Stepan-Zuccarello; Rupp-Prust-Boyle. McDonagh-Girardi; Del Zotto-Sauer....

In my absence, Newsday has a fine, ex-pat freelancer from NY on site at the Globe for a game story for the paper, but follow me here and twitter.com/stevezipay for live and post-game coverage....

I've also attached some game notes from the team for your pre-game reading: Welcome back to the games that count, everybody.....

 

SEASON OPENERS:
-The Rangers are 35-36-13 all-time in 84 season-opening games, including a 25-27-8 record in 60 season openers away from MSG. The Blueshirt's .483 winning percentage in season openers on the road ranks ninth in the NHL.
-New York has out-scored their opponents, 241-236 in season-openers.
-Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella ranks fifth among active NHL head coaches in season openers with a record of 6-2-0 in eight career season-opening games for a .750 winning percentage.
-Blueshirts legend Andy Bathgate holds the franchise record for most assists and points in a season-opening game, having registered four assists and five points on Oct. 7, 1955 at Chicago. His four assists and five points in the 1955-56 season opener are tied for second all-time in the NHL. Former Ranger Walt Tkaczuk also tallied four assists in a season-opening game on Oct. 9, 1974 vs. Washington.
-Derek Stepan tallied three goals while making his NHL debut in last season's opener on Oct. 9, 2010 at Buffalo. His three goals tied the franchise record for goals in a season opener, and he became the fourth player in NHL history and first Ranger to register a hat trick in his NHL debut. Ron Murphy, who skated with the Rangers from 1952-53 to 1956-57, also tallied three goals in the 1955-56 season opener at Chicago on Oct. 7, 1955.
-Stepan is one of two active players who have notched a hat trick in a season-opening game (Paul Stastny, COL).
-Former Rangers' captain Jaromir Jagr holds the team record for fastest goal to start a game in a season opener with his goal just 29 seconds into the contest on Oct. 5, 2006 vs. Washington.
-Andy Bathgate, Rod Gilbert and Walt Tkaczuk are tied for the Rangers' record for most career points in season-opening games, with each player having tallied 13 career points in season openers.
-Former Rangers' goaltender Gump Worsley holds the franchise record for most opening night wins with five career wins in season-opening games. Henrik Lundqvist has registered four career wins in season-opening games.

NEW FACES
The Rangers have five new players on their opening night roster: Brad Richards, Mike Rupp, Brendan Bell, Tim Erixon and Jeff Woywitka. Erixon is looking to make his NHL debut.

GETTING STARTED:
-The Rangers have posted a record of 281-270-91 all-time in the month of October, including a 176-117-48 mark at home and a 105-153-43 record on the road. New York is scheduled to play 10 games during the season's opening month in 2011-12, with three games being contested at MSG and seven scheduled on the road.
-Legendary Rangers' defenseman Brian Leetch holds the franchise record for most points in the month of October, having registered 43 goals and 130 assists for 173 career points in the season's opening month.
-The Blueshirts' all-time leader for most career wins in the month of October is Mike Richter, who registered 40 career wins during the season's opening month. Henrik Lundqvist has recorded 33 career wins during the month of October.
-New York has posted two, seven-game winning streaks in the month of October, winning seven consecutive games during the season's opening month in 2009-10 (Oct. 3 vs. Ottawa to Oct. 17 at Toronto) and 1988-89 (Oct. 16 vs. Vancouver to Oct. 30 vs. Pittsburgh).

COUNTDOWN TO 2500 WINS
The Rangers are currently 16 wins shy of 2,500 wins, having won 2,484 games all-time in franchise history.

CLOSING TIME
The Blueshirts were the only team in the NHL who were undefeated when leading after two periods last season, posting a record of 29-0-0 in those contests. The Rangers tied for third in the league with a plus-22 goal differential in the third period (85 goals for, 63 goals against). New York also tied for second in the NHL with eight wins and 20 points in games in which it trailed entering the final frame.

AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers completed the 2010-11 season leading the league in hits (2,333), ranked fourth in blocked shots (1,301), tied for first in shutouts (11), second in number of players with at least one GWG (19), third in shootout wins (nine), fourth in shorthanded goals (11) and road wins (24), fifth in goals against (198), and fifth with a plus-35 goal differential.

MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
-Brandon Prust: 3 games from 200th NHL career
-Brad Richards: 4 assists from 500th NHL career
-Mike Rupp: 3 games from 500th NHL career

INJURIES:
-Marc Staal (Injured Reserve, 10/5) - 0

Total Man-Games Lost: 0

RECENT TRANSACTIONS:
Oct. 5 - Recalled defenseman Tim Erixon from Connecticut (AHL)
Oct. 5 - Assigned forward Sean Avery to Connecticut (AHL)
Oct. 5 - Placed defenseman Marc Staal on IR
Oct. 6 - Claimed defenseman Jeff Woywitka off waivers from Montreal
Oct. 6 - Assigned defenseman Stu Bickel to Connecticut (AHL)

 

 

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