GREENBURGH, N.Y. — It was just the coincidence of an open stall that brought Wade Redden's gear into the spot that used to belong to Brendan Shanahan in the MSG Training Center locker room.
Redden had been tucked off on the side, with Nigel Dawes, Dmitri Kalinin and Nikolai Zherdev. Now, he's on Broadway, nearer to Chris Drury and Scott Gomez.
"Heavy hitters over here," Redden said.
With the Senators, Redden's team for his first 11 NHL seasons, at the Garden Monday night, the veteran defenseman is stepping into the spotlight a bit more. After 20 games, the Rangers' marquee free-agent signing has been much like his new team: up and down from game to game, even period to period. But Redden has been looking more and more like the guy the Rangers spent $39 million over six years to sign.
"There's always a feeling-out process, and hopefully that's done for me now," said Redden, who played his best game as a Ranger in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins. "You definitely want to come out and make an impression (with a new team). We've all been finding ourselves as a team. I tried to come in and fit in, but I also feel like I can step it up when I have to."
Redden is not flashy and never has been, but the Rangers definitely need him to be more than he has been so far. Michal Rozsival has become the Garden's new whipping boy, justifiably so after two more giveaways that led to Bruins goals Saturday. Marc Staal, Paul Mara and Dan Girardi have been very steady. But Redden was going to be the power-play quarterback and the tape-to-tape passer who negated teams' aggressive forechecks.
Redden has two goals and eight points in 20 games. Not flashy numbers, but his improving play may alter those. "We've certainly seen the incline in his play," Tom Renney said. "It's been pretty much game to game, especially over the last four to five games."
As for facing the only other team he played for, Redden is excited — more so for Saturday's trip to Ottawa. "It's going to be a fun week," he said. "I'm a Ranger first and foremost, but it'll be interesting for sure."
Notes & quotes: C Scott Gomez (bruised ankle) missed practice Sunday and Renney called him "unlikely" for Monday night. Gomez hasn't skated since Wednesday and will miss his third game ... F Markus Naslund (undisclosed injury) also missed practice, but Renney said Naslund will play Monday night.