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октября 2008 года.
Rangers hoping for breakout season from Zherdev // Newsday
Oct. 24--GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Potential is a word you hear a lot of when the name Nikolai Zherdev comes up.
Nearly everyone who has played with Zherdev believes he has it in him to become a big-time scorer. The problem is, no one has come up with the magical formula to turn the Ukraine forward's potential into something concrete. Such as goals.
"I think he has the most hockey skills in the world. It's just a matter of getting it out of him," says Dan Fritsche, who played four seasons with Zherdev in Columbus before they were traded to the Rangers in July. "Sometimes when he's out there, it looks like the puck is on a string with him. He can do some pretty cool things with the puck."
The Rangers wouldn't mind if those cool things translated into a few points when they take on Zherdev's former team tonight in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets, who made Zherdev the No. 4 overall pick in the 2003 pick, tried for four seasons to turn him into the type of offensive player that could take their team to the next level. Last year, they gave up and sent Zherdev and Fritsche to the Rangers in exchange for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.
Since winning their first five games of the season, the Rangers are 1-2-1. And the biggest thing they've had trouble with is getting the puck in the net. Yesterday, just to shake things up a bit offensively, coach Tom Renney had Zherdev practice with a new line, putting him with Markus Naslund and Chris Drury. Renney then put Fritsche, who has played only a limited role this season, on Zherdev's old line with Brandon Dubinsky and Aaron Voros.
Though he wasn't 100 percent positive, Renney is leaning toward trying those lines tonight and giving Fritsche some playing time against his former team.
Zherdev, who struggles a bit answering questions in English, did not seem to hold any grudge against his former team.
"I played four years in that city. Columbus is OK," he said.
Yet he believes that the change of scenery is going to help him take his game to a new level. In nine games with the Rangers, he has two goals and three assists. Last season in Columbus, he had 26 goals.
"His instincts are really different from a North American guy," Renney said. "I think we want him to work on going a little more north-south instead of east-west. We'd like to marry the instincts he has with what we want to do as a team."
In other words, they'd like Zherdev to be a little less fancy in the neutral zone, especially when he is moving through a sea of defenders. And then they'd like him to use his creativity when he is in the offensive zone.
Said Fritsche: "He absolutely could be [a 40-goal scorer]. He's got great playmaking ability and a great shot. I think he's getting better every year. I think he's on the right track."