The Rangers Secret Weapon?
Monday April 27th 2009, 7:14 pm
Photo: Rich Zacher

Photo: Rich Zacher

The New York Rangers have recalled 20-year old Russian center Artem Anisimov to replace injured center Blair Betts, who suffered a broken orbital bone and concussion as the result of a late hit by Washington Capitals forward Donald Brashear on Sunday. Rangers head coach John Tortorella refused to confirm whether the Hartford Wolf Pack’s leading scorer will make his NHL playoff debut in game seven of the Rangers – Capitals series on Tuesday, but should he be in the line-up, the Yaroslavl native will have a little added incentive to score: Anisimov is good friends with Washington Capitals goaltender Simeon Varlamov, who came up through the Lokomotiv hockey school with the Rangers’ top prospect and was teammates with him on Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the former Russian Super League and on various Russian national junior teams.

Earlier this season, Anisimov had the opportunity to face his friend and former teammate for the first time, and came away with a goal in a 4-2 Hartford loss to the Hershey Bears. Here’s what the 6-4, 205 pound center had to say about the encounter in an interview with Russian web site Sports Planet, which was translated and posted here on December 20th, 2008.

- You already said that to play against the team of Alexander Vasyunov was interesting, and not so long ago you shot a puck in the goal of Simeon Varlamov. What impressions have remained with you from that game?

- It was such a pity that our team lost that match. It was greatly to Simeon’s merit, we created many dangerous chances, but he played very well. I really wanted to shoot the puck on my friend, with whom I played with for many years. When I scored, I was as happy as a child. I felt fantastic emotions, which can’t be described with words, they must be felt.

- And have you discussed this game with Valamov himself?

- Of course, I met with Simeon after the match, his father also joined us. The three of us very briefly discussed the match, there were lots of positive feelings. In addition, I was very happy to see Simeon, since the last time we saw each other was back in the summer in Yaroslavl.

- To sum up both matches, tell us, what is it like to play against former teammates?

- In the first place, there’s this huge desire to win. The desire to overcome your rival increases in the few times when you play against your friends, and more so [against your] former teammates. Not only I felt that way, but the guys certainly hold the same opinion. It’s a shame that our team lost, but I’m happy that in both matches I was able to score.

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