Anyway, the weather here, swirling light snow and icy temperatures, should be familiar to Ilkka Heikkinen. What the Finnish defenseman, who will make his Rangers debut tomorrow at HSBC Arena, hasn't yet had a taste of, is the NHL game.
"Itís a high tempo," the 25-year-old Heikkinen said of practice today before the Rangers flew here to face the red-hot Sabres, who have won four straight and are 9-3-2 at home. "Thereís less dumping, you have to put it right away to the forwards. I donít play with the puck as much."
Through 24 games in Hartford, Heikkinen scored 16 points (5-11) and earned a call-up when the team learned that Wade Redden's ailing right shoulder will keep him out of the weekend's games here and at home against the Red Wings.
"We have good reports on him, I'm anxious to see him play," said Tortorella.
One teammate in Hartford, rookie goalie Chad Johnson, who also made the trip as Henrik Lundqvist's backup, appreciates Heikkinen. "Heís a really smart player," said Johnson. "Heís good with the puck. He can be physical, too."
Unlike Heikkinen, who will be baptized by fire, Johnson is here to soak up the atmosphere and work with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. Tortorella said he could be sent back and forth to Hartford on Rangers off-days to play AHL games.
More from Torts: "We can bounce him back and forth. Weíre going to monitor that, we just donít want him practicing, he still needs to continue to play. Heís had a great start down there and we donít want to lose his development along the way.
Great. Let's hope Johnson's not overly exposed to Allaire.
Same feeling here man I wouldn't mind at all if he helps improve his game and gives him a few tips but please god don't make him sit back in the net and turn him into another "experiment", just keep the kids style but try to improve it and add a few new tactics that is all.