Game 1 of the first-round series between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators was the one in which they felt each other out. Game 2, then, was the real deal, with hits, nastiness (54 penalty minutes) and every shift bringing excitement.
Game 3 on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. (shown on CNBC or MSG) at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa should bring even more intensity, especially on the heels of the nastiness in Game 2. Carl Hagelin was suspended three games for his elbow on Senators captain Daniel Alfreddson, Matt Carkner received a one-game ban for instigating (and then continuing) an altercation with Brian Boyle, who did not respond. Plus, Erik Karlsson figures to continue to be a focus of the Rangers' gameplan as they try to take him off his game with physical play. Add that all up with the teams bringing physicality on every shift and the series tied 1-1, and this has all the makings of another classic clash.
It also figures to set up (though it has not been confirmed) the NHL debut of Rangers prized prospect Chris Kreider, who was playing in the NCAA championship game with Boston College just over a week ago. The fact New York signed him days after the title game ended and pushed him to join with the team for the postseason says all you need to know: He was going to enter the lineup sooner or later, and now is the perfect time. The other option is John Scott, who has played minimally and hasn't seen the ice since March 9.
New York won Game 1, 4-2, after a sluggish start on the heels of four unanswered goals, then dropped Game 2 in overtime, 3-2. The playoffs automatically ratchet the intensity up a notch, but in the last game, the Rangers got caught up in the "extracurriculars" with Ottawa and they weren't their normal disciplined selves. Even though they got one goal, the Blueshirts are 1-for-8 on the power play in the series, and it didn't come on the five-minute chance they had in the first on Carkner's penalty, a big missed opportunity.
Expect Brandon Dubinsky to come out with a chip on his shoulder after getting ejected for being the third-man in during the Boyle-Carkner scuffle in the first period 2:15 in.