Ruslan Fedotenko isn't a loud player. He isn't the name you will see on the backs of jerseys at Madison Square Garden, or one that will be chanted through the rafters for his efforts. He's not the guy grabbing the spotlight or making highlight reels across the Internet for what he contributes to the team on a nightly basis. However, what Fedotenko provides for the New York Rangers is just as imperative to the team's success as say, what Brad Richards brings as one of those 'loud' players. He's not only a veteran, but he's a playoff veteran, and he has two Stanley Cup rings to show for it. Ruslan Fedotenko is just the type of guy you want in your lineup when bidding for a championship.
The turning point in Saturday's Game 1 win over the Washington Capitals was when the Rangers killed off a crucial 5-on-3 powerplay for the Caps midway through the second period. In a tightly defended game, that was a prime opportunity for Alex Ovechkin and Washington's powerplay unit to get on the board and hopefully build up a lead. In other words, the Rangers absolutely needed that kill if they had hopes of coming away with a victory.
At this moment was when Fedotenko came to the forefront for New York, blocking two shots as well as making a diving play to break up a pass that would've sent a one-timer in the direction of Henrik Lundqvist from down low. Lundqvist certainly held his own during that kill, making some key stops from point blank range, but it was Fedotenko who put the team on his shoulders in that pivotal point in the hockey game.
Feds was rewarded with the third star of the night afterward, and you could say that it was for his assist on Artem Anisimov's wraparound goal in the second period. But I truly believe that it was for his excellence on the penalty-kill while down two men, because that kill turned out to be a key story of the game when it was all over.
And with two key penalty-killers in Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky currently out of the lineup, Fedotenko's outstanding play couldn't be more timely.
“We basically benched him near the end of the year, and that was part of our conversation with him. We knew how important he was going to be in the playoffs and had to get him ready for that,” Tortorella told the Daily News. “Even in the last series (against Ottawa), he does a lot of little things that a lot of people don’t see. . . . But that’s why he has those two tattoos on his shoulder.”
Those tattoos, by the way, represent the two Cups he won with Tampa Bay in 2004 and Pittsburgh in 2009.
It's not only in the defensive zone that Feds is effective. He's a jack of all trades, in a sense, because he is also someone who will continuously grind in the offensive zone. He's great on the forecheck and rarely do you ever see him make a dim-witted decision with the puck on his blade. Plain and simple, he's someone you can always trust, and John Tortorella surely does.
BOYLE NEARING RETURN, DUBINSKY NOT
Brian Boyle has not returned to the lineup since taking a high hit to the head from Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the quarterfinals. Following Sunday's practice, however, he reported that he has not experienced any setbacks as of yet, and that he's now skated for three straight days. While there is still no set date for his return, he's getting awfully close to putting on the sweater once again.
Brandon Dubinsky, meanwhile, was spotted on crutches on Sunday, still out with a lower body injury from a collision in Game 7 of the quarterfinals. Nothing is for sure, but it seems like it could be a while before Dubi is back.