Morning Skate In Calgary: "We Have To Be Professionals"

Jim Cerny
BlueshirtsUnited.com

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After a five hour flight from New York to Calgary on Thursday, all of the Rangers were on the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome for Friday's morning skate, including defenseman John Moore who skated for the second time since first suffering concussion symptoms a week ago in Columbus.

After the skate head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that no lineup changes will be made, meaning that Henrik Lundqvist will make his ninth straight start in goal and that Moore, Daniel Carcillo, and Ryan Haggerty will all once again be scratched. Chris Kreider and Justin Falk both are not on the trip--Kreider underwent surgery on his injured hand Friday morning in New York and is sidelined indefinitely, and Falk remained at home to be with his wife who is expecting their first child any day now.

In the first two games of this road trip the Rangers will be facing teams--the Flames and Edmonton Oilers--who are not in playoff contention, which actually raises a red flag and causes some concern in the mind of Rangers alternate captain Brad Richards.

"It's a good challenge because we really have to be professionals on this trip because it's not Philly Wednesday night fighting for home ice, it's not a rivalry," explained Richards in a conversation with BlueshirtsUnited.com Friday morning. "Calgary is not going to the playoffs, but we can't overlook them and think they will just give us two points. Their coach has them going really good over there, so we have to take it like it's our Game Seven. We need these points."

The Rangers enter tonight on a five-game winning streak, built largely on three intense victories over divisional rivals. This evening that built-in rivalry and intensity is not there, meaning the Rangers must dig down and find a way to play with the requisite emotion and passion because the two points on the line are still extremely important with two weeks remaining in the season.

"A team like that can be a real pain the (rear end), but only if you are not expecting a push," stated Richards, who is 17-30-47 on the season. "As a hockey player, another team is annoying or a pain only when you're not prepared. When we play the Phillys, Bostons, New Jerseys, you're prepared for big matches, so this might seem different; but it's not different. These guys are going to come hard at us. We have to be ready to push back, too."

One thing is for certain, the Flames have the utmost amount of respect for the Rangers. Friday morning Flames coach Bob Hartley and his players repeatedly praised New York, often referring to the Rangers as one of the elite squads in the entire NHL.

"They had a real tough start, a brutal road trip to start the season, but they stuck together and no one panicked," explained Hartley. "They are one of the best teams in the league right now."

Added team captain Mark Giordano, "They're a high-pressure team with a lot of firepower over there. They have a lot of options offensively, and Lundqvist is tough to be at at the other end. He is is one of the best, for sure. He's big, and plays big. Beating him, and them, will be a real challenge."

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Derek Dorsett confirmed that he will have "a ton" of family and friends attending the game tonight. Dorsett is from nearby Saskatoon, and his father will be arriving this afternoon for the game along with other family members and family friends. Dorsett's mother lives in Calgary, and he got to spend time with her and his brother Thursday afternoon when the Rangers arrived in town.

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Marty St. Louis, who began his NHL career as a member of the Calgary Flames back in 1998-99, chatted with reporters for about ten minutes following the morning skate, discussing the fact that he has yet to score a goal in 12 games since being acquired by the Rangers.

"I had a lot of shots when I first got here, but I haven't been the shooter much recently, which is fine because I am really a playmaker who can score goals, not a shoot-first guy," explained St. Louis. "I'm trying to be me. It's a work in progress."

St. Louis added that playing the left wing with Stepan and Nash is an adjustment after playing the majority of his career as a right wing. 

"You see things differently, things come at you differently, on the left side after playing right wing for so long."