Sun 15 Apr 2012
The New York Rangers sixth consecutive overtime playoff loss did not stem from any change in momentum as a result of Ottawa’s two third period goals in Game 1. It also did not stem from Matt Carkner’s Hanson Brotheresque imitation on Brian Boyle. Rather, the loss came because the Rangers did not manage to maintain puck possession and a couple of bounces went against them in the 3-2 loss last night.
“There’s always a natural tendency where you end up defending. I thought we could have made some plays to try and keep some puck possession, but that’s what happens when you get into a little bit of that,” Rangers Coach John Tortorella said following the game. “I don’t think we’re that bad, it’s kind of a fluky goal that goes right through Marc (Staal), right through his legs and they bang it in. We were four minutes away from winning the hockey game and I still don’t think we played that poorly tonight, but I do think we need to continue to attack.”
Even the other two Senators goals came off bounces that went against the Rangers. Erik Karlsson’s bank shot that tied the game at 1-1 deflected off Michael Del Zotto and into the net. Ottawa’s winning goal also came off a fortuitous bounce after a shot from the point hit Ryan McDonagh and bounced right to Chris Neil.
A quick memo to the Blueshirts blueliners (especially Del Zotto) – nothing good ever happens when a defender is standing or skating through his own crease.
Bad bounces and possible momentum swings were not the story of this game. Instead, it is the way that the hatred between the two teams has been elevated exponentially.
At the start of the 3rd period, Joe Micheletti made a comment about how “tough” the game was. Honestly, Joe was downplaying the tone of the game. It was a chippy game that often turned downright dirty – a game just short of hand-to-hand combat.
And depending on how Brendan Shanahan handles the review of Game 2, Monday night’s game could turn into a WWE Battle Royale. It means nothing if Shanahan suspends Matt Carkner because he accomplished what he set out in Game 2. Quite frankly, if Shanny wanted to mete out punishment he would force Ottawa to dress Carkner and give him 20 minutes of ice time on defense.
Boyle addressed how he expects the intensity to pick up as the series continues.
“It’s going to get elevated every night,” Boyle told the Associated Press. “We have to keep trying to raise our game, raise our level of intensity throughout. I am sure they are going to do the same.”
As an aside, you had to love the way radio color analyst Dave Maloney characterized the Senators’ opening salvo in Game 2. The former Ranger captain likened Carkner’s hit and subsequent mugging to old-time Philadelphia Flyers hockey. Maloney went even further by saying that Carkner had no business being dressed for a playoff game.
Carkner’s thuggery is not the only action that Shanahan has to review. You know that he will be taking a long hard look at Carl Hagelin’s hit on Daniel Alfredsson – especially in light of the Ottawa captain missing the rest of the game.
We have seen that Shanahan is more concerned with the injury status of the recipient as opposed to what the offender has done. The Ottawa press is anticipating a one or two game suspension while the New York media expects Shanahan deals out one of his $2,500 fines to Hagelin.
My only question with the Hagelin-Alfredsson hit is why didn’t Ottawa draw a minor (or even a third-man in penalty ala Brandon Dubinsky) when two Senators went after Hagelin right after the hit?
Both Carkner and Hagelin have hearings scheduled for this afternoon. Tortorella didn’t think Hagelin deserved a suspension, but Torts said if Hagelin gets one then Chris Phillips deserves one for his high hit on Ryan Callahan.
The problem with handing out suspensions and seemingly basing them on injuries is that sometimes the only thing separating a player from getting a little banged up and suffering a serious injury is plain dumb luck or happenstance.
For example, Brooks Orpik drew no fine or suspension for his hit on Derek Stepan and the Rangers forward was lucky to have not suffered an injury.
Looking back at last night, the extent of Alfredsson’s injury was made worse because he suffered a concussion earlier in the season – thanks to former Ranger Wojtek Wolski.
The difference between the Stepan non-injury and Alfredsson’s injury was luck and happenstance. If a player deserves a suspension then he should get one whether the opponent is hurt of nor. You can base the length of the suspension on the result.
If Hagelin, or even Dubinsky for that matter, face disciplinary action then it could mean an early start to the Chris Kreider Era because the options are limited.
Unless Coach Tortorella wanted fight fire with fire, John Scott is not going to see any action in this series. Andre Deveaux could get the call if Torts wanted to add more muscle, but that would be a long shot.
The Blueshirts could dress a seventh defenseman and even move Stu Bickel up to play forward. But I doubt Steve Eminger is ready to play and I am not sure if it would be fair to expect Jeff Woywitka to give you any major minutes.
The pickings with the Connecticut Whale are slim. The three best options are Kris Newbury, Andreas Thuresson and Casey Wellman. All three are veterans of the Calder Cup Playoffs, but none of them have appeared in an NHL playoff game.
One other possibility would be to recall rookie center Jonathan Audy-Marchessault who turned an invitation to play in the Traverse City Tournament into a fine rookie season with the Whale as he scored 24 goals and 40 assists in 75 games. However, at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, the rookie would be an inviting target.
Odds are it would be best to give Kreider his first professional action. With Game 3 being played in Ottawa, the spotlight would be lessened as would some of the pressure. Tortorella could start him on the fourth line with Michael Rupp and John Mitchell with Brandon Prust moving up with Ruslan Fedotenko and Boyle. Dubinsky could be moved to the first line and given a chance to return to the lineup with a vengeance.
As a whole, the Rangers just need to remember the style of play that got them to the top of the Eastern Conference. They need to return to their tenacity of their Game 1 forecheck while making sure they play smartly in their own end.
During an interview on ESPN radio earlier on Saturday, Maloney warned to Rangers to not get caught running around in their zone when the Senators are working their own forecheck. Maloney advised the Rangers to hunker down and maintain their positions rather than risk being caught out of position.
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