NEW YORK ó You could forgive Erik Karlsson if he was nervous for only the second time in his life.
As the 19-year-old rookie defenceman prepared to make his Senatorsí regular-season debut in the bright lights of the Big Apple Saturday night, Karlsson was both excited and wondering what to expect.
Itís been a whirlwind ride for Karlsson since he was picked 15th in the 2008 draft. In one year, heís gone from the Swedish Elite Leagueís Frolunda Indians to helping run a power play in the NHL.
ďFrom what Iíve heard, this is one of the best places to play. This is my first game and Iím not trying to think about it too much,Ē said Karlsson. ďIíve been nervous only once in my life and that was the first game that I played with Frolunda last year in Sweden, but I only played seven minutes.
ďIt was a big jump for me last year going from the juniors to the menís league in Sweden, but I thought I handled it pretty well. Now, itís going to be another big jump for me from Sweden to here. So far, I think, everything is going good.Ē
Captain Daniel Alfredsson, with whom Karlsson has been staying, said the youngster would be able to handle playing his first regular-season game on Broadway.
ďThe first game is always a good memory, but being in New York and in Madison Square Garden is one of the biggest stages in the world for an athlete. He knows how heís got to play. He just has to go out there and play hard and enjoy it,Ē said Alfredsson.
ďYou canít away get from (the nerves) and Iím sure Iíll have some jitters (last night) as well. Thatís part of it. Itís a big moment in your career coming from Sweden and getting to play in the NHL. Itís a big step, but he deserves it and heís here because heís played good enough.Ē
Redden takes in on chin
Former Senators D Wade Redden is off to a rough start in the Big Apple. While he played 18:31 and was plus-1 in the Rangersí 3-2 loss to the Penguins Friday at the Igloo, Redden didnít see any time on the power play. Instead, youngster Matt Gilroy played a key role on the power-play point. To make matters worse, Redden took a shot off the face from Mike Fisher in the first period Saturday night.
Mrs. Semenov says nyet!
The Rangers were ready to sign D Alexei Semenov after a training camp tryout, but his wife nixed the deal. The 28-year-old Russian agreed to a one-year, $600,000 US contract with the Rangers ó and the club went so far as to announce the deal. ďHe agreed, his agent (Allan Walsh) agreed, his wife didnít,Ē said Rangers GM Glen Sather. ďHe couldnít talk his family into it. In all my years dealing with players, Iíve never had that happen before. He was crying.Ē Apparently, Mrs. Semenov wasnít pleased with the terms. Perhaps theyíll be more favourable from the two KHL teams interested in her husband.
This íní that
The Thrashers werenít the only team interested in former Senators D Christoph Schubert when he was put on re-entry waivers. In fact, Atlanta wasnít even the team that asked GM Bryan Murray to make the move ... The Rangers werenít introduced individually in the pre-game ceremony. They came out as a team and saluted the fans ... Talk in Colorado is the Habs might make a pitch for D John-Michael Liles.
Around The Boards
Expect Senators G Pascal Leclaire to play 75% of the clubís games this season. Coach Cory Clouston confirmed yesterday he expects Leclaire to play about 60 games, with backup Brian Elliott starting the remaining contests ... Former director of officiating Steve Walkom should know the Rangers quite well. After refereeing their opener against the Penguins in Pittsburgh Friday night, Walkom also officiated last nightís tilt at Madison Square Garden.
In what could be a real Battle of Ontario, the Senators face the beefed-up Maple Leafs in Toronto Tuesday.