Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 10/2/11
Lundqvist

The New York Rangers will look to improve on their 3-1-1 record so far in the preseason when they visit Slovakia this morning for a match against HC Slovan. On Friday we saw a homecoming for Henrik Lundqvist when the Blueshrits visited Gothenburg, Sweden and today we will see just that for Marian Gaborik in Bratislava, Slovakia, which is not too far from where Gabby grew up. 

Don't expect an elaborate ceremony like Lundqvist received on Friday, but nonetheless, this has to have been a game that Marian has had marked on his calendar for quite a while now. As a hockey player, when you go overseas to play in the NHL you develop a second home. To be able to participate in a game in your original home country as a member of the NHL, in addition to it being the Rangers, it must be a pretty special experience. 

Gaborik aside, this is a critical game for the Rangers as it will be their first tilt in which they will send out what is very close to their opening night roster. After yesterday's cuts, the club is now limited to only 14 forwards, 8 defensemen and 3 goalies. By Friday head coach John Tortorella said he would like to be down to 13 forwards, which means one of Sean Avery or Erik Christensen will be getting the boot. 

They only have two more games left to prove themselves but I think right now Avery should have the edge over Christensen. Now before I am accused, this is not a biased opinion. To me, Avery has contributed more life to the lineup throughout the preseason than Erik has. Christensen's goal last game was the first spotting of him all preseason while Avery has been noticeable each time he's touched the ice. But again, I'm not the coach. 

The thing I will be looking for the most in this game is improvement in the team's defense. I have not been impressed by the performance on the blue-line at all so far. Part of that has to do with the absence of Marc Staal and Mike Sauer in the linuep, but a lot of it has to do with structure as well. They've been out of position, missing coverages and just playing sloppy hockey. This is an issue that must be addressed before Friday's opener against the Kings. 

Offensively I must say that the club has shown some good signs to this point. Their forechecking has been great, they are moving the puck around well and they are taking shots. There's always room for improvement and that's what the preseason is for, but they've gotten off to a fairly good start. 

The Rangers haven't rea leased their lineup yet, but you can get an idea as to what it will look like based on the remaining players on the camp roster, which I posted below. Also, defenseman Mike Sauer was hoping to work his way back into the lineup for this game as well. 

New York Rangers Roster

Forward (14): Artem Anisimov, Sean Avery, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Marian Gaborik, Brandon Prust, Brad Richards, Mike Rupp, Derek Stepan,Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello

Defense (8): Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Marc Staal

Goal (3): Martin Biron, Henrik Lundqvist, Scott Stajcer 

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