GREENBURGH, N.Y. - At least one of Keith Yandle's ties to the Coyotes is gone.
He managed to sell his home in Arizona during the summer, no easy feat in that real estate market, given the sizzling desert temperatures from spring to fall. "It was someone coming in visiting, they weren't staying all summer, that's for sure," the Rangers defenseman said with a smile after practice Wednesday.
But the heat, to some extent, is still on Yandle, 29, who came to the Rangers in a trade last March in exchange for top prospect Anthony Duclair.
Both Yandle, who spent parts of nine years in Arizona and was a power-play force, and Duclair, who already has five goals this season, will be on the ice together for the first time Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Yandle of course, doesn't know the "Duke," as coach Alain Vigneault called him, but said "it'll be good to see some guys I've played with."
He spoke with Coyotes captain Shane Doan during the summer and described him as 'a good friend.' On Tuesday, Yandle watched a little of Arizona's 3-2 loss to the Devils.
"They're playing solid," Yandle said.
Duclair's hot start contrasts with Yandle's, who scuffled to fit in with his new team last season, joining a settled-in defensive corps and playing fewer minutes. He scored just two goals and 11 points in 21 regular season games and posted the same 2-9-11 line in 19 playoff games. This season, he has four assists in seven games.
"He's got all the attributes," Vigneault said, referring to Yandle. "He's just got to learn to relax, execute a little bit better. Sometimes it takes a little time to get used to a new environment. Since he's been here, he's been conscious of his play without the puck and the implications of what we want from him on the ice. The games we were in, maybe compared to Phoenix, where ours meant a lot, meant a little adjustment for him. He'll be fine."
Yandle said he didn't feel any extra pressure this season. "I think every year you put pressure on yourself to be the best you can, it doesn't matter what team you're on," he said Wednesday. "To survive in this league, you've got to put pressure on yourself, you do stuff in offseason, push yourself as much as possible . . . When you're traded, you're all in for the team you're with. When I got that first phone call, when [team president] Glen [Sather] welcomed me, you're all in to be a Ranger."
Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist, who returns from a one-game break to start his seventh against Phoenix, on former coach John Tortorella, now behind the Columbus bench: "He was tough, but he was honest. As a player, I think you appreciate that, straight answers all the time. Sometimes, as a player, you don't want to hear the truth." . . . Tanner Glass cleared waivers and reported to Hartford (AHL). Vigneault, who expected Glass to clear, called it a "very tough" decision, prompted by salary-cap issues and the need for more time to evaluate where players such as Emerson Etem and Dylan McIlrath. He described Glass as "true professional. He got here through determination and hard work." . . . Derek Stepan (wisdom tooth) missed practice but is expected to play Thursday night.