BASLE/BERNE – For the first time since 1959, the New York Rangers are in Switzerland. The NHL team arrived at the Basle airport and after a short bus ride to Berne, the NHL team conducted their first practice prior to the Victoria Cup at Berne’s PostFinance Arena.
The Rangers group was visibly jetlagged, but happy to arrive in Europe where they will play SC Bern (Sept. 30), Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Victoria Cup on October 1 and later go to Prague to open the NHL season with two games against Tampa Bay (Oct. 4 and 5).
They boarded their plane for Switzerland just a few hours after playing their last exhibition game in New York.
The Rangers lost their last exhibition game on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden against New Jersey, 4-2. Swede Markus Näslund and Russian Nikolai Zherdev scored the goals after a 4-0 lead for the Devils.
The Rangers’ number-one goalkeeper, Swede Henrik Lundqvist, was replaced at 30:25 after letting in four goals on 12 shots. Back-up Stephen Valiquette made 11 saves.
Lundqvist said that, contrary to many media reports, his knees are fine and that he expects to split the two games in Berne with Valiquette.
The Rangers arrived at the PostFinance Arena in Berne at around 13:30 and they conducted their first practice from 15:00-17:00.This is the 26-man roster that the Rangers brought to Europe:
Goalkeepers: Henrik Lundqvist, Steve Valiquette, Miika Wiikman.
Defencemen: Brian Fahey, Dan Girardi, Dmitri Kalinin, Paul Mara, Corey Potter, Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal.
Forwards: Blair Betts, Ryan Callahan, Nigel Dawes, Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Fritsche, Scott Gomez, Lauri Korpikoski, Markus Näslund, Colton Orr, Petr Prucha, Patrick Rissmiller, Fredrik Sjöström, Aaron Voros, Nikolai Zherdev.
NOTE: Last time the Rangers played in Switzerland was in 1959, as part of their 23-game European tour with the Boston Bruins. Two of the games were staged in Geneva and two in Zurich, so this is the first time the Rangers will play in the Swiss capital.The New York Rangers arrived Sunday morning at the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. From left: Wade Redden, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. The Blueshirts will play for the Victoria Cup in Berne this coming week. Photo: Martin Merk