Coming off a Game 3 victory in which they executed their winning brand of hockey to a tee, the New York Rangers take on the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night (MSG, CNBC) at 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 utilized a heavy dose of Henrik Lundqvist (39 saves), exceptional team defense and opportunistic goal scoring (Brian Boyle) in order for New York to emerge with a 1-0 victory. In Game 4, the Rangers will look to mimic that performance, with the hopes of generating a little more breathing room on offense.
Whlie Lundqvist has been the team's best player, keeping them in all three games, Boyle has been the best forward. Remarkably, he had 11 goals in the regular season. After scoring in each of the first three games, he now has three in the postseason and has potted eight in the last 12 games combined. As usual, he's been a stalwart on defense, but even more encouraging is that he's used his big body much more on offense and in throwing his weight around n hits.
The Rangers, though, need a little more stability and production within all their lines, not just Boyle's. Marian Gaborik has a goal, but has just one shot on goal in the past two games ... while Brad Richards had a goal in the first game and nothing since.Derek Stepan hasn't done much all series, either, tallying just six shots on goal and finding himself getting most of his time on the fourth line in Game 3. Chris Kreider is likely to find himself on the top line again; he had 11:11 ice time in the first game and showed some hesitancy early on before looking more comofortable as the game went on. Even with Carl Hagelin out for two more games, Kreider has the ability to make an impact and that impact will occur as his comfort level settles as he has the speed, body and hands to create offense. Coach John Tortorella is likely to watch him closely on defense, as it seems that's the weakest part of his game.
Daniel Alfredsson, the Sens' captain, reportedly had a setback in his recovery from a concussion, and he's likely out again in Game 4. That's good news for the Rangers, but that doesn't mean their gameplan -- which is defense creates offense -- should change.
New York's penalty kill has been a huge asset, limiting Ottawa to one goal on 10 chances. However, the power play has been a major detriment, often not looking in unison to create any sort of offense or positive momentum. The Rangers are 0-for-11 in that department, an aspect of their game that needs to improve if they want to make noise in the playoffs.
Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012, 7:30 PM EDT