Rangers-Senators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 15, 2012
Carl Hagelin still seem stunned a day after laying out Swedish countryman Daniel Alfredsson with an elbow to the head that left the Ottawa captain with a possible concussion and landed the mild-mannered New York Rangers rookie in trouble with the NHL. To say that plays like this are out of character for the 23-year-old Hagelin would be an understatement. The speedy forward claims to have never been given a major penalty before - anywhere. But on Saturday night, he elbowed Alfredsson along the boards during the second period of the Senators' 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 that evened the best-of-seven series. Alfredsson didn't return to the game, and his health and status for the rest of the series was unknown Sunday. The series is shifting to Ottawa, and Game 3 will be played on Monday night. Whether Alfredsson and Hagelin will be on the ice for that one still needs to be determined. Hagelin had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Sunday, while his team practiced before flying to Ottawa. He already served a major penalty that produced the first tying goal for Ottawa, and could be suspended before Game 3. If the 39-year-old Alfredsson, who already has a concussion history, can't play, Hagelin is likely to be punished further. The veteran right wing missed five games earlier this season because of a concussion sustained when he took a hit to the head from Wojtek Wolski - then of the Rangers - on Oct. 29. ''I sent him a text yesterday and said I'm sorry and very regretful for what happened,'' Hagelin said of his fellow Swede. ''I never want to hurt anyone on the ice. That's not the type of player I am. I've never had a major before. Especially being Alfredsson, growing up he's been a hero back home. He's been one of my favorite players. He's won the Olympics, the World Championship with Sweden, so obviously I had no intention of hurting him. ''I just hope he's doing well.'' The Rangers led 1-0 with 9:28 left in the second period of Game 2 when Alfredsson moved the puck out of the corner in the Ottawa end, and Hagelin tracked him down. The Rangers forward came up off his skates and landed his right elbow onto Alfredsson's head and knocked it into the glass. Alfredsson left the game, and Hagelin headed to the box for 5 minutes. Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson sent a shot off the skate of Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto to get Ottawa even at 1. ''It's unfortunate,'' Hagelin said. ''You want to play in every game, and you especially don't want to be in the penalty box for five minutes and give the other team a chance to get a power play, and you don't want to hurt anyone on the other team. ''It's obviously frustrating.'' If Hagelin is unavailable Monday, the Rangers could turn to new forward Chris Kreider, who has yet to make his NHL debut since signing with New York last week after winning his second NCAA Frozen Four with Boston College. Rangers coach John Tortorella refused to reveal what, if any, lineup changes he would make for Game 3. Despite the loss, Tortorella was particularly positive about how his team played. If he isn't forced to make any moves, he won't. He was defiant when asked if the confidence of the Rangers - the Eastern Conference's top-seeded team - was shaken at all by the loss. ''Not a chance,'' he said. ''We are who we are. I've said it all along, I like the hockey club. I like the way we handled ourselves (Saturday) night. We didn't get it done, but we're not changing. I'll tell you right now, we're not adjusting. We're going to go play.'' Another Rangers forward is excited to get back on the ice is the feisty Brandon Dubinsky, who was ejected just 2:15 into Game 2 when he came to the defense of teammate Brian Boyle. In response to some gloved punches Boyle gave to Karlsson in Game 1, the Senators sent Matt Carkner out to get the 6-foot-7 New York center. Carkner threw off his gloves and began punching Boyle, who never dropped his gloves. The blows continued even after Boyle fell to the ice and never punched back. With neither of the linesman breaking up the scrap, Dubinsky charged in and was ejected for being the third man in. Carkner also was tossed and given a major penalty for fighting that gave New York a 5-minute power play that it failed to take advantage of. Dubinsky flung a water cooler as he stormed down the tunnel after his ejection, following a tirade in the penalty box when he was informed he was done for the night. ''I was upset,'' the fiery Dubinsky said Sunday. ''Look, I don't want to talk about it. We'll be ready to play tomorrow. I'll be ready to play tomorrow. We expect them to be good again and we need to be better. That's what is important here: not what happened yesterday, but what's going to happen tomorrow. ''You've got to stay disciplined because they have a good power play. At the same time, we're not going to back down. We haven't backed down from anyone all year. We'll continue to play physical, and we anticipate they will do the same. That's playoff hockey for you. We've just got to stick together and just play the right way, which is how we've been doing it all year.'' Carkner also spoke to Shanahan on Sunday and was left waiting to hear if he would be punished more. He, along with Zenon Konopka, were added to the Game 2 lineup by Senators coach Paul MacLean to add grit following Ottawa's series-opening loss. ''We discussed the incident this morning and I pleaded my case and now he's going to figure out what he's going to do,'' Carkner told The Canadian Press about his 20-minute phone conversation with Shanahan. ''Basically it was an instigated fight and I got the game misconduct, as well, and I got kicked out so I think that's enough, but we'll see. Carkner's contribution, however brief, wasn't lost on his teammates. ''We wanted to be more physical as a group,'' said rugged forward Chris Neil, who also fought Boyle before scoring the OT winner. ''We came out and set the tone, and it paid off for us. Matt came out and did what he had to do and you can't say enough about it. ''You need to play tough out there and we did that as a group.''
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