Artem Anisimov earned a place on the New York Rangers roster with an impressive September, leading the team in preseason scoring with four goals and two assists. But ice time proved harder to come by once the 2009-2010 regular season campaign got underway in October, and that, along with the increased level of competition brought about by games that “mean something” meant points became harder to come by for the 21-year old rookie as well.
Still, after fourteen games his seven points are good enough to tie him for seventh in rookie scoring with Colorado wunderkind Matt Duchane — despite being the only first year player averaging under ten minutes per game. Through the first month of the season, Anisimov has averaged just 9:42 in playing time per game, or 8:26 if you exclude the 16:20 he played in last night’s not-so-wild showdown in Minnesota.
Not that the Yaroslavl native is complaining. After scoring his third goal of the season against the Pheonix Coyotes on Monday, Anisimov told Sport-Express reporter Vasily Orlov that he values every minute he spends on the ice. In addition, the league’s leading Russian rookie shared his feelings on playing for fiery head coach Tortorella, spending two years “on the farm” with the Hartford Wolf Pack, and how, in his first season, he had thoughts of giving up on his goal of making NHL. He started by describing the spin-and-score goal he put past fellow Russian Ilya Bryzgalov:
- It was all simple enough. Brashear intercepted the opposition’s pass, we came out three on two, and I went to the net. When I got the pass, the puck was on my backhand, so I couldn’t shoot it right away, and I swung around, fooling the defenseman and Bryzgalov in the process.
- What’s it like for you to work with the somewhat oppressive and unpredictable coach, Tortorella?
- You won’t believe it, but I really like his coaching style. I like coaches who can start a team up, tune it in for a tough fight. In such a situation you don’t let yourself relax, you play to the limit of your capabilities at all times. Only that way is it possible to improve. And in Hartford we had a similar coach. He could shout, throw things in the locker room. I remember a game that we were losing after the second period, 0-3. We listened to the coach, came out and scored four goals in the third! So it’s easier to me to play for a strict and exacting coach.
- Today your team managed an early blitz — you quickly overwhelmed your opponent and scored two goals…
- We always prepare like that for home games, we try from the very beginning to play aggressively, to press our opponent.
- You spent two years on the Rangers farm club. What impressions of that [experience] remain?
- When I left for America I set a clear goal for myself — to earn a spot on the NHL team. And since I was drafted by the Rangers I had to fight my way on to one of the most popular clubs in the league. And so the two years in Hartford can be considered the process of fulfilling my dreams. (smiles) In the first year it was particularly difficult because I didn’t know the language, and plus, Americans have a completely different mentality — you have to get used to that. At times thoughts of giving it all up and returning [home] crept in. But I endured, learned English, and started to communicate more with my teammates and coaching staff.
- Don’t you think that you haven’t been given enough playing time so far, playing on the checking line?
- That’s the coaches decision. The only thing that remains for me is to give absolutely everything I’ve got in the shifts that are given to me. I value even those few minutes I spend on the ice very much.
- Do you remember your initial impression when you arrived in America?
- Yes, I went straight to camp. It was obvious how much everything differed from Russia. I remember, in Lokomotiv, coach [Vladimir] Yurzinov gathered us, the youth, in the middle of June and worked us until September. Here you get 2-3 weeks, and in that time, you better show everything you can. In the first exhibition game in Madison Square Garden they put me on the first line with Shannahan and Avery. Back then I couldn’t understand what was happening on the ice for a long time.
- And what in particular shocked you about the way of life?
- That I didn’t understand anything at all. Everything here is completely different. And so I acted strictly on intuition (laughs). Only in the second year did I begin to orient myself to America.
- Would you like to get on the Olympic roster?
- It’d be very nice to play for the national team, but for now there is nothing in particular for me to to say on this matter. The time will come when the coaches of the national team decide who to invite there.
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