Karlsson faces test of nerves on Broadway

BRUCE GARRIOCH, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

NEW YORK — 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 Senators’ regular-season debut in the bright lights of the Big Apple Saturday night, Karlsson was both excited and wondering what to expect.

It’s been a whirlwind ride for Karlsson since he was picked 15th in the 2008 draft. In one year, he’s gone from the Swedish Elite League’s Frolunda Indians to helping run a power play in the NHL.

“From what I’ve heard, this is one of the best places to play. This is my first game and I’m not trying to think about it too much,” said Karlsson. “I’ve 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.

“It was a big jump for me last year going from the juniors to the men’s league in Sweden, but I thought I handled it pretty well. Now, it’s going to be another big jump for me from Sweden to here. So far, I think, everything is going good.”

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.

“The 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 he’s got to play. He just has to go out there and play hard and enjoy it,” said Alfredsson.

“You can’t away get from (the nerves) and I’m sure I’ll have some jitters (last night) as well. That’s part of it. It’s a big moment in your career coming from Sweden and getting to play in the NHL. It’s a big step, but he deserves it and he’s here because he’s played good enough.”

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 Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Penguins Friday at the Igloo, Redden didn’t 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 — and the club went so far as to announce the deal. “He agreed, his agent (Allan Walsh) agreed, his wife didn’t,” said Rangers GM Glen Sather. “He couldn’t talk his family into it. In all my years dealing with players, I’ve never had that happen before. He was crying.” Apparently, Mrs. Semenov wasn’t pleased with the terms. Perhaps they’ll be more favourable from the two KHL teams interested in her husband.

This ’n’ that

The Thrashers weren’t the only team interested in former Senators D Christoph Schubert when he was put on re-entry waivers. In fact, Atlanta wasn’t even the team that asked GM Bryan Murray to make the move ... The Rangers weren’t 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 club’s 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 night’s tilt at Madison Square Garden.

Up Next

In what could be a real Battle of Ontario, the Senators face the beefed-up Maple Leafs in Toronto Tuesday.


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