Asham Arrives, Rangers get Shutout Win

Arron Asham had his first practice with the Wolf Pack today…still no word on whether Martin Biron will join the Pack or elect to retire.

Asham and Biron were both assigned to Hartford by the parent New York Rangers Tuesday, after clearing NHL waivers.

The 35-year-old Asham brings 15 seasons, and nearly 800 NHL games, of experience, to the Wolf Pack locker room.  His last AHL stint was in 2001-02, when he played 24 games with the old Quebec Citadelles before graduating to the Canadiens and never looking back.  HIs premier calling card has always been toughness, but Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander is expecting Asham to be a big help to the Pack in multiple facets of the game.

Arron Asham (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Arron Asham
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

“Everybody knows that he adds an element of toughness to our team,” Gernander said of Asham, “but aside from that, he’s got a lot of NHL experience, I think he’s a very capable player five-on-five.  He’s not someone that that’s (physical play) his only impact on the game.  So I think he should fit nicely into our lineup.  You would expect, given all his experience, that he should be a good mentor and example to a lot of these guys as well.”

One challenge that Asham’s arrival presents to the Wolf Pack is that it puts the team over the limit of six “veteran” players that can dress for a game.  In addition to Asham, Darroll Powe, Micheal Haley, Brandon Mashinter, Danny Syvret, Aaron Johnson and Brodie Dupont are all over the 260-games-played threshold that puts a player into veteran status.  So, as it stands right now, one of those guys is going to have to sit out each game.  And if it’s Dupont, who is still on a tryout agreement, who is the odd man out, that leaves the Pack somewhat short at center.  Dupont has been playing in the middle, and the Pack also lost J.T. Miller this week, when he and Cam Talbot were called up to New York on Tuesday.

Asham has played some center in his career, but from the looks of things in practice this morning, they are going to use him on the wing.  Judging from how they had it set up today, Marek Hrivik is the most likely candidate to move to center to fill the void.

The Rangers, meanwhile, got back on the winning track last night, defeating the Washington Capitals in D.C., 2-0.

It’s almost absurd to talk about huge wins this early in the year, but boy, was it ever big for the Blueshirts to get the kind of goaltending and defensive performances they did in that game.

New York had been touched up for 20 goals in its previous three games, and all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had allowed 16 goals on 141 shots in five appearances, a save percentage of under 89.  Ugly, scary stats, but everything seemed right with the Rangers’ world in the game against Washington.  It looked like old times defensively, with players blocking shots all over the place, and Lundqvist appeared to be seeing the shots perfectly.

“I thought our guys competed real hard, which is the key to any game, and we did a lot of right things with the puck,” Ranger head coach Alain Vigneault told the media after the game.  “And when we didn’t have the puck, we did a lot of the right things. So we’ll take our first win in Eastern time, and go from there.”

The Rangers now are off until Saturday, when they play the seventh of nine straight road games to open the season, and this one, geographically, is almost like a home game, traveling to Newark to take on the Devils.


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