Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 4/16/12

After the raucous events that took place in Saturday’s Game 2 between the New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden, this series is guaranteed to get a whole lot more interesting as it progresses. 

Both clubs will enter Scotiabank Place for Game 3 on this night with a win under their belt, seeking a tiebreaking effort that will put them ahead for the time being. For New York, their objective will be to bring their game back down to a calm as it was in Game 1, rather than the flow-lacking scramble they found themselves in on Saturday. The Senators, though, have to be satisfied with their gutsy performance to steal an away win in overtime, so they will surely result to physical play as a means of ignition once again. Whichever style of play prevails could very well decide tonight’s outcome. 

The Rangers, however, are not a team to lose focus very often, and that begins with head coach John Tortorella. They had to deal with all sorts of distractions throughout the regular season and did so successfully, never once giving in to the sideshows helped to be developed by the media. So it would be safe to assume that the circus of a game that took place on Saturday is now a thing of the past for these Blueshirts, and that it will have no carry-over influence on the team moving forward.

That being said, there are some areas of the team’s game that they must look to improve from Saturday, and it all begins with their level of physicality. The Senators came out looking to draw blood in Game 2, as blatantly stated by head coach Paul MacLean’s starting lineup. The Rangers didn’t have a response, and it hurt them when all was said and done. 

Well, I guess that’s not entirely true since Brandon Dubinsky attempted to take things into his own hands, but we all know what happened with that situation. 

Beginning with the forwards right on through to the defense, the Rangers need to be more aggressive with the body tonight. They forced Ottawa into mistakes in Game 1 by constantly being in their faces and delivering checks whenever they could. That was not the case in Game 2, and not by coincidence rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson ended up with ten shots on the night, putting on an incredible performance for the Sens. 

In addition to raising their physicality, the Blueshirts must also tame their behavior and remain discipline. I know, this all may seem contradictory, but they did a wonderful job of finding that happy medium in Game 1 – not so much on Saturday. Continuous penalties will sink this team, and it would be a crying shame if they cost themselves the series because of lack of discipline. 

Thankfully they have a solid penalty-kill to back them up, but their other half to the whole special teams thing is not so solid by any stretch. The Rangers’ powerplay, as it is now, is nothing but a momentum killer. I’ve found that they’ve begun to freeze up again as they did earlier in the year, and by that I mean lack of movement. The powerplay can be dynamite if they make moving plays, but this ‘stand still and wait for a lane to open up’ approach is simply not working out.  It needs to be fixed and fixed as soon as possible. 

Those are basically the keys to rebounding and taking Game 3 tonight in Ottawa, but what remains in question is New York’s lineup. Tortorella would not reveal who will be replacing the suspended Carl Hagelin in the lineup, keeping all of us as well as the opponent guessing. 

They essentially have three options here: 

  1. Chris Kreider
  2. John Scott
  3. Steve Eminger with Stu Bickel moving to forward 

I’m sticking with my gut that the Rangers should play Kreider here. If they were going to go through the effort of signing the kid for the playoffs, then why not give him a shot? I would’ve preferred that he started out in the AHL as most everyone does right out of college, but now that he is here, utilize his abilities in the lineup with Hagelin out. 

As I said this morning, Kreider is nearly a carbon copy of Hagelin in terms of style of play. The swap has the potential to work out perfectly. 

As for Ottawa, captain Daniel Alfredsson stated today that he suffered a concussion from Hagelin’s elbow on Saturday, but will be a gametime decision for tonight’s game. 

Wait, what?

New York Rangers Lineup

TBA

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