Friday, October 10, 2008

New York Rangers Win Home Opener 4-2 Against Blackhawks


By Margaret DeJesus (MargaretDeJesus88@gmail.com)

NEW YORK-(Oct. 10, 2008)--The New York Rangers have gone out with the old and in with the new this season -- saying “bye” to Jaromir Jagr and Co. -- and it’s paying off big time so far. The team has won three straight games with contributions from its young rookies and newly acquired veterans to complement its solid goaltending.

Brandon Dubinsky, a rising star in his second NHL season, along with his new teammates and linemates Nikolai Zherdev and Aaron Voros led the Rangers past the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night at the home opener at Madison Square Garden.

Dubinsky had a goal and two assists in the Original Six matchup against the Western Conference team while his line combined for seven points.

With red, white and blue balloons dropped from the rafters, the lights turned down low and special effects smoke pumped in, the team and its new captain were introduced to a sold out and rocking crowd of 18,200 in a pregame ceremony.

“It’s a huge honor and I’m thrilled to be doing it,” said forward Chris Drury, a 10-year veteran of the NHL, about being named the 25th captain of the Rangers. The former Buffalo Sabres co-captain signed with the team last summer.

Defenseman Wade Redden, who signed a six-year deal worth $39 million with the Rangers this summer, fired the puck past Blackhawks goalie Cristobel Huet after Drury’s weak shot rebounded toward him at 6:47 of the first period to give them a 1-0 lead.

The Blackhawks tied it up before the end of the first period when defenseman Brian Campbell banked the puck off of the side of the net to center and last season’s NHL Rookie of the Year, Patrick Kane, who zipped it past goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

“We didn’t necessarily have the best game in the world,” said Aaron Voros in the locker room after the game in which he had a goal and an assist.“We had a couple of mental lapses out there but all in all, we played pretty well.”

Dubinsky scored in the second period to make it 3-1 after nabbing a loose puck at center ice and gliding past three Blackhawks to beat Huet.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to get thrown into a role where I’m going to play some good minutes and be forced to contribute. So far so good,” said the 22-year-old standing near his locker following the game.

With some bad giveaways, momentary lags in intensity, and some weak play in the defensive zone, the Rangers almost allowed the Blackhawks to claw their way back in to the game, especially in the third period after Duncan Keith scored to make it a one goal game.

“We were good enough to win but almost bad enough to lose it,” said Coach Tom Renney in the post game press conference.

The team started the regular season with a pair of back-to-back 2-1 wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning last weekend in the Czech Republic. The teams were two of four chosen to start the NHL regular season in Europe as part of the 2008 Bridgestone NHL Premier designed to spread interest in the league globally as well as allow players the memorable chance to play in front of fans from their home countries.

The Rangers haven’t had a 3-0 start since 1989.So far, the Blueshirts seem to be doing just fine without Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka, the former captain and co-captains and bulk of the first and second lines who were not resigned by the organization over the summer. Similarly the fan favorite and agitating forward Sean Avery wasn’t brought back either after two seasons.

After getting ousted in the second round of the playoffs two seasons in a row, getting swept in the first round against the rival Devils in 2006, and prior to that not even making the playoffs since 1997, General Manager Glen Sather decided it was time, once again, for the Rangers to go in a new direction with new players like Redden, Zherdev, Voros, and veterans Markus Naslund and Dmitri Kalinin.

Tomorrow, the team heads to Philadelphia to face the Flyers, where Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will be on hand to drop the puck in honor of the Flyer’s “Hockey Mom of the Year” award presented to a fan.Coach Renney laughed when asked what he thought.

“I’m Canadian,” he said preferring to stay out of the realm of U.S. politics and stick with the hockey.

GAME NOTES:
The three stars of the game were Aaron Voros (LW), Henrik Lundqvist (G), and Brandon Dubinsky (C).Petr Prucha, Patrick Rissmiller and Dan Fritsche were healthy scratches for the Rangers.The pre-game ceremony featured a special puck drop by Ranger greats Adam Graves (No. 9), Harry Howell (No. 3) and Andy Bathgate (No. 9), who will have their jersey numbers retired this February.

videoNEW YORK--(10/10/08) Alternate captain Scott Gomez talks about the contributions of the Rangers younger players. Rookie center Brandon Dubinsky and his new linemate Aaron Voros talk to reporters in the locker room following the win.

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