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Sunday, January 20, 2013
Asham to debut vs. Penguins

By Matt Ehalt

Forward Arron Asham will make his Rangers debut Sunday night against his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Asham had to miss the season opener against Boston to finish off a four-game suspension he received for a hit on Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn in the playoffs last season.

"He's played well," Rangers coach John Tortorella said before Sunday's game. "The five or six days we've had him he's skated well, he can make some plays. He obviously brings an element of toughness. I'm anxious to see him on that line -- maybe elsewhere."

Asham will play on the team's fourth line beside Mike Rupp and Jeff Halpern, and will replace forward Brandon Segal, who was sent to the AHL. After he makes his Rangers debut, Asham will have played for all five of the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division squads.

The 34-year-old isn't much of a scorer, tallying just 27 points the past two years, and is known more for his toughness. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, he racked up more than 100 penalty minutes each season for the Flyers. Last season, he had 76 for the Penguins. Asham's style of play can sometimes led to undisciplined actions on the ice, which Tortorella loathes, but the coach isn't too concerned about it.

"Yeah (there are some worries), but I don't expect him to be a saint. The way he plays, we need to allow him to be himself," Tortorella said. "I think you can play the game hard, and we have done that, and physical, without taking penalties. Last night we took penalties."

While the Rangers sent down Segal for Asham, Tortorella talked highly about the 29-year-old. Segal played 5:21 on Saturday night and didn't do much in his time.

Tortorella said on Jan. 17 he hoped Segal wouldn't be a "one and done" player, but that proved to the case, at least for now. The coach expects to see Segal back in New York this season.

"That isn't one and done to me. I liked some of the things he did. I like his size," Tortorella said. "I'm concerned about the tempo and just the speed of the game, that's something I'd like to see him work on down there. But he's not done here."