NEW YORK -- After seven games in three countries and about a month away from home, the New York Rangers were thrilled to return to the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. air max nike sale. Friendly? Most definitely. Familiar? Not so much. The Rangers will become the last of the NHLs 30 teams to play their home opener when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The reason they were away for so long was the first stage of a three-part renovation project to transform the Garden. "I checked it out earlier this summer, so I had a little idea of where I was going," forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "Some guys got locked out and didnt know where they were going, but well get it figured out." The so-called "Worlds Most Famous Arena" is getting a facelift. The enormous project wont be finished for two years, meaning the Rangers are in line for more long journeys when the arena shuts down the next two summers for more around-the-clock construction. Instead of being shipped off to play home games on unfamiliar grounds -- as the Yankees did at Shea Stadium in the 1970s when the old Yankee Stadium was renovated -- the Rangers, and the Knicks (once the NBA lockout ends) will play around the work. The Rangers got their first look at what has been done since they left in April, and the instant reviews were good. The dressing rooms are new -- even for the visitors -- as is the entire lower bowl of seats that are way more comfortable and a much darker shade than the familiar teal. "Its awesome in here," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said Wednesday after a rare practice at MSG. "There is so much more space, its high-tech now, and I think its a lot more fan-friendly, too -- a little bit more access to us and things like that. "Were excited to be back home." They should be well received, too, when the refurbished arena welcomes a sold-out crowd on Thursday. The Rangers went 3-2-2 during the long trek, despite visiting tough places such as Vancouver. New York also had "road" games in Sweden against Los Angeles and Anaheim, so the Rangers wont have to venture to California during the season. Nearly one quarter of their road games are behind them, and the Rangers will have to play only five games the rest of the season outside of the Eastern time zone. The Toronto game kicks off a six-game homestand, and that isnt even the longest of the season. New York will be home for a seven-game stretch in March as the playoff drive is really heating up. "It feels different. Good different, though," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "Everybody is excited to be back home and getting ready for a lot of home games here coming up. "The biggest part is just to come back home and play in front of our own fans. Add to that we have a new facility here. Its a big difference to be back here, and the preparation for us is going to be a lot better. The most important thing for us now is just to get comfortable here today and tomorrow and then get ready for six home games in a row. Im excited about it." After losing after regulation to Anaheim and Los Angeles to start the season in Sweden, the Rangers were beaten by the New York Islanders in their closest thing to a home game since last seasons playoffs. But New York went 3-1 on an excursion to Western Canada, finishing the trip with a grinded-out 2-1 victory at Winnipeg on Monday. Overall, the journey covered more than 32,000 kilometres. "It was a lot of travelling. I think weve done OK," star forward Marian Gaborik said. "The results were there, although we still have to work on some things and improve some things. Were looking forward to some games at home. We really need to take advantage of home field." No one could remember the last time the Rangers held an off-day practice at the Garden instead of at their suburban training centre, but the consensus was that it was years ago. The Maple Leafs took a spin on the ice after the Rangers on Wednesday, and both teams will hold morning pre-game skates there on Thursday, too. Even those in the blue and white Maple Leafs sweaters were impressed by the changes. "The locker room is definitely a lot better than it used to be, but Ive always loved playing here," Toronto centre Tim Connolly said. "Its a great atmosphere in the building and its a historic building. "Its always been a little bit of a darker arena in the crowd, but it seems pretty similar as before." The arena was unexpectedly available on Wednesday because the New York Knicks pre-season game against the Washington Wizards was cancelled because of the NBA lockout. While not much could be gleaned from one practice in a mostly empty arena, the Rangers appeared happy to at least get a good look at their new-look home, figure out the routes on and off the ice, and settle in at their stalls. It was hard to tell by glance whether the new dressing room was bigger than the old one, but gone were several odd alcoves that cut off moving space. The only obstacle remaining is an oversized Rangers logo that covers a big chunk of the centre of the room, and is off limits for feet. Garbage pails and laundry bins guarded the perimeter, to some extent. Yells from players and team staff to "Keep Off" were more effectively directed at the many reporters and camera operators who broke that rule in the crowded room. "Its a little big," Lundqvist said. "Its going to be tough on you guys." Now that they are finally home, the Rangers will look to get comfortable with their surroundings as quickly as possible and try to get the offence going. Garden fans will get their first look at playmaking centre Brad Richards, who was lured to New York with a lucrative free-agent deal this summer. Richards got off to a slow start with Gaborik on his line, and the pair will be counted on to pick things up now that the rough part of the schedule is over. "Ive been thinking about it for a while. Its taken a while to get here," Richards said of the opener. "The excitement of a new team, the first thing you want to do is play in the home building and in front of those fans. That hasnt been the case here, so Im excited. Ill have some butterflies and I cant wait to get going." The Rangers will still be without top defenceman Marc Staal, who is out indefinitely because of the effects of a concussion sustained last season, but they are expected to have defenceman Michael Sauer back in the lineup against the Leafs following a shoulder injury. "Most definitely ready to go," Sauer said. "Ive got clearance, so Ill be out there, for sure." Forward Mike Rupp didnt practice because of a sore knee, but is expected to play Thursday. nike air max schuhe. Wright was 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA at Double-A Akron. Boston, which had knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in its rotation for many years, assigned Wright to Double-A Portland. air max nike women. "We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and its not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait. http://www.nikeairmaxonlineshop.de/. The Thunders path through the post-season lined up so their first three opponents have been the only three teams to win the West since 1998. nike air max 87. -- With Brian Urlacher nursing a hamstring injury, the Chicago Bears have signed Dom DeCicco to a two-year contract, adding depth at linebacker. air max deutschland.Y. -- Paul Byron scored to lift the league-leading Abbotsford Heat to a 3-2 win over the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League play Friday.NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer never worries when Ilya Kovalchuk goes into a goal-scoring drought. Kovalchuk gets his chances every game, and sooner or later the puck starts going in the net. Kovalchuk snapped a six-game drought with a short-handed goal late in the second period and the Devils won their third straight game with a 4-2 victory over the slumping Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. "I wasnt worried about Kovy, its just a matter of time with him," DeBoer said. "Kovy could have had four goals tonight had he not been trying to set everyone up. But thats him and all the guys in the room appreciate what he is about." The go-ahead goal was a perfect shot. Kovalchuk intercepted a pass by defenceman Sami Salo near the Devils blue line and skated into the Lightning zone on a 2-on-1 with Travis Zajac. The Russian used his centre as a decoy and snapped a shot from the dot in the left circle low into the corner of the net against a defenceless Anders Lindback at 17:34. "Kovy is Kovy and he loves to score goals," said Martin Brodeur, who had a relatively easy night facing 19 shots. "He gets his share. Big-time goal scorers get big goals. Hopefully, hell be able to celebrate a little bit more the next time." Kovalchuk finished the game with a team-high five shots on goal and only some good saves by Lindback prevented him from scoring more than his third goal of the season and second short-handed. "Ill take that. Hopefully Ill do better," Kovalchuk said. Andy Greene and Patrik Elias iced the game with power-play goals 14 seconds apart with less than 5 minutes to play as the Devils (6-1-3) sent the Lightning to their third consecutive loss. Elias also had two assists, while Adam Henrique scored for the second game in a row. "We have to respect their offence, so we had to keep it simple," said Elias, who has six points in the last two games. "They have a lot of firepower and score a lot, so to give ourselves a chance, we had to play tighter defensively. They came in going through a good streak scoring goals. They got chances, but we took advantage of our chances. Its good to have a lot of people chipping in." Nate Thompson and Matthew Carle scored for the Lightning, who have five goals during their losing streak. Tampa Bay scored 37 times in starting the season 6-1. Lightning coach Guy Boucher thought his team played well, except on the power play. "We dont seem too capitalize on our chances and it has been hurting us the last three games," he said. air max nike damen. New Jersey, which came in having killed off 15 straight penalties, was 4 for 4 on the penalty kill, with Kovalchuk tallying after the Devils got an unsportsmanlike penalty when someone — not DeBoer — said something that referee Chris Rooney didnt appreciate. "Its tough to give up one off the power play but we didnt take advantage on the power play for ourselves," said Lightning leading scorer Steven Stamkos, who missed an open net in the third period on a rebound with his team down a goal. Brodeur made the mistake that allowed Tampa Bay to tie the score 1-all a little more than 4 minutes earlier. Usually an outstanding puckhandler, he misplayed a pass from the crease off the sideboards. Martin St. Louis intercepted the pass and found Thompson between the circles for a shot into the top of the net. Henrique, who missed the first five games of the season while recovering from thumb surgery, had put New Jersey ahead earlier in the period thanks to a mistake by Lindback. The 6-foot-6 goalie thought he had caught a shot from the point by defenceman Anton Volchenkov. The puck, however, slipped out of his glove and Henrique pounced on the loose puck and backhanded it into the net for his third goal in five games. Greene scored with 4:48 to go with the Devils on a two-man advantage, and Elias capped his second straight three-point night seconds later with another goal with a two-man advantage. "I didnt see any penalties," Boucher said. "I didnt see anything. I just watched the video again and didnt see anything. I guess Ill have to look at it another 20 times." Carle scored with the Lightning down three goals. Before the game, the Devils decided to play first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau, marking his sixth game of the regular season. The decision means that the first year of his contract kicks in for this lockout-shortened 48-game season. The 18-year-old can still be sent down to play junior hockey, but his entry level contract is now active. NOTES: With blizzard advisories in the northeast, the Lightning are heading to Boston for a game on Saturday. The Devils will play at home against the Penguins. ... Devils LW Dainius Zubrus was scratched with an upper body injury sustained Tuesday against the Rangers. ... Brodeur played in his 1,199th NHL game. ... The crowd of 14,802 was the Devils first non-sellout in five home games. ' ' '