Like it or not, the players who were on the ice for practice today are the ones the Rangers will be relying on for the rest of this season, and perhaps even beyond that.
It’s way too early to tell what kind of impact either Fred Sjostrom or Christian Backman will have on this group, but if you want to at least gauge an overall mood around the Rangers, it was apparent both were well received (with the exception, of course, of Sjostrom opening up a cut on his chin after taking a stick to the face from a defenseman. “Tall guy, righty shot,” Sjostrom said, not sure of the name. “Girardi?”).
Practice was upbeat, and so was the room afterward.
Anyway, some notes:
<li>Backman skated on the right side with Marc Staal, leaving the other pairings of Fedor Tyutin and Dan Girardi, and Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik intact.
<li>With Colton Orr and Petr Prucha still unlikely for tomorrow, expect Sjostrom to skate on the right side in Carolina with Blair Betts and Ryan Hollweg.
<li>Meanwhile, there’s a lot of unhappy players in St. Louis after “losing a popular defenseman”:http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/morning-skate/uncategorized/2008/02/blues-players-lament-trade-of-salvador/. And no, it’s not Christian Backman. This “blog”:http://www.stlouisgametime.com/3/?p=598 assesses Backman in even blunter terms:
After winning a gold medal with the Swedish Olympic team in 2006, Backman signed a three-year contract extension that runs through next year. He NEVER lived up to expectations and would have stretches of several games where he would be nearly invisible before finally making a jaw-dropping play that left fans shaking their heads wondering why he couldnâ€™t put together more of a consistent effort during his Blues tenure.
<li>Both Sjostrom and Backman said they were surprised to be traded, but happy that they were in New York. Both also expressed excitement about being reunited with Henrik Lundqvist given their history back in Sweden together. Maybe the only person not excited was Jaromir Jagr.
“Swedes everywhere,” the captain cracked.
<li>The Sean Avery media boycott seems to be ending — although we now might be boycotting him. The left wing skated by our spot in the corner of the rink to wave hello, then pointed to Dellapina and asked him if he wanted to talk today. “We’ll do a rotation,” Avery mouthed. “One guy a week.”
When Dellapina admirably decided not to take Avery up on his offer, Avery turned to me. “OK, what do you want to ask me?” he said. “Is there really anything earth-shattering you need to know?”
It turns out on the day after the Rangers made two trades, Avery was a non-story. “Not today,” I said.
Then Zipay chimed in. “Is there a reason you haven’t talked for three weeks?”
“No comment,” Avery said.
We all resolved to revisit the issue at a later date.
<li>Jagr is awaiting on a shipment of sticks from China that he hoped to have by tomorrow in Carolina. Should they not come, he may end up using a stick left behind by Marcel Hossa. See, and you thought Hossa wasn’t contributing…