Kings-Rangers: Game 1 Preview

Game 1, Stockholm Sweden: 10 AM PST

Since we last met the New York Rangers...

IN: New York doesn’t make a splash in the free agent pool: they cannonball. July 1st megaloprize Brad Richards was not swayed by LA’s promotional video, though he said the production values were very high. His reunion with coach Tortorella gives the Rangers the #1 center they have long sought. Mike Rupp was signed to a 3 year deal away from the Penguins. Highly-rated defense prospect Tim Erixon was acquired from the Flames after some controversy; his dad, an ex-Ranger himself, might have had a leeetle bit to do with that. Jeff Woywitka was claimed from Montreal yesterday to shore up their defense.

OUT: Alexander Frolov, Vinny Prospal, Bryan McCabe, Matt Gilroy

WAIVED: Sean "Turtle-eyed fashionista" Avery; Brendan Bell; Stu Bickel; Dale Weise (claimed by Vancouver)

RETIRED: Chris Drury

IN MEMORIAM: Derek Boogaard

Rangers’ lineup at a recent practice:

Dubinsky - B. Richards - Gaborik
Fedotenko - Anisimov - Callahan
Wolski - Stepan - Zuccarello
Rupp - Boyle - Prust

McDonagh-Girardi
Del Zotto-Sauer
Erixon-Eminger

In net: Henrik Lundqvist

*Dubinsky and Fedotenko swapped places after spending the preseason on different lines.

*Top defenseman Marc Staal is on injured reserve (concussion headaches), wreaking havoc on the usual pairings. Sauer has been out with a shoulder sprain, but is expected to play. It is not known when Jeff Woywitka will join the team. Tim Erixon was recalled on Wednesday, and looks set to play in Stockholm.

*Further reading: Blueshirt Banter, Ranger Rants

Kings' probable lineup:

Gagne-Kopitar-Williams
Richardson-Richards-Brown
Parse-Stoll-Hunter
Clifford-Lewis-Moreau

Mitchell-Doughty
Johnson-Scuderi
Martinez-Greene

In net: Jonathan Quick

As for the Kings, there’s still a damn lot for them to work on: between the split-squad games and the long looks given to NHL-ready prospects like Voynov and Loktionov, the final power play units have not had much time to work together. Jarret Stoll is the new Handzus. The forward lines need to gel. Long-haired rich guy Drew Doughty is still getting up to speed. Penner has a mysterious lower body/possible man-Spanx-inflicted injury, which the Edmonton Journal is sure to investigate soon. At their "home" game in Stockholm, everyone will be rooting for Lundqvist. To top it all off, LA officially has the most grueling travel schedule in the NHL.

But who cares? There’s nothing left to do but lace up the skates and figure it all out.

Hockey is back! Woohoo!

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