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Posted On Sunday, 04.29.2012 / 2:27 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Semin skates with fourth line at Caps' practice

NEW YORK -- Alex Semin was an effective player for the Capitals during their first-round, seven-game series win against the Boston Bruins. He had three goals in the series and was showing a commitment to the defensive side of the game.

Semin was out of sorts Saturday during the Capitals' 3-1 loss to the Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series, however. He took two penalties, one of which was a retaliatory penalty after he was hit by Rangers captain Ryan Callahan that negated a power play, had zero points and was on the ice for Chris Kreider's game-winning goal in the third period.

On Sunday, Semin found himself demoted to the fourth line with Mike Knuble and Keith Aucoin at practice. Coach Dale Hunter said he was not sending a message with the move and defended his player's penalties.

"No, just mixing the lines up," Hunter said. "The one, he went for the puck and he hit a skate. The other one, both of them should've went. It was a cross check. If you watch the replay, the guy cross checked him first. But you can't retaliate. You just can't retaliate. The ref, he called one. He could've easily called two. But that's the way it goes."

Semin nearly scored during a second-period power play, but his wrist shot deflected off the arm of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the crossbar. Hunter said he expects Semin to continue to have an impact on the power play.

Defenseman Jeff Schultz, a healthy scratch for Game 1, was back with Dennis Wideman at practice with John Erskine out of the top-six mix.

Here are the rest of the line combinations from practice, none of which are guaranteed to hold during Game 2 of the series Monday night.

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Alexander Semin

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 3:00 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Boyle and Dubinsky out

NEW YORK -- Forwards Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky will not be in the lineup Saturday afternoon as the Rangers open their Eastern Conference Semi-final series with the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

Boyle (concussion) missed Games 6 and 7 of the Rangers' first-round series with the Ottawa Senators after taking a bone-jarring hit from Chris Neil in Game 5. Boyle practiced for the first time since the hit Friday and said his availability would depend on how he felt in the hours after practice.

Dubinsky (lower body) absorbed a hit late in Game 7 against the Senators and did not return to the ice for the game’s final 11 minutes and did not practice Friday.

Defenseman Steve Eminger is in the lineup for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in mid-March. Defenseman
Stu Bickel has played forward at times this season, but Eminger took line rushes in pregame warmups with Mike Rupp and John Mitchell. Eminger has played some forward during his career.

Here's what the Rangers' line combinations looked like in warmups:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Artem Anisimov - Brandon Prust
Steve Eminger - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron
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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 1:13 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

No pre-game updates on Boyle, Dubinsky

NEW YORK -- Rangers coach John Tortorella offered no updates on injured forwards Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky on Satuirday afternoon.

Boyle (concussion) and Dubinsky (lower-body) will likely be game-time decisions as the Rangers face the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Madison Square Garden.

Boyle missed Games 6 and 7 of the Rangers' first-round series with the Ottawa Senators after taking a jarring hit from Chris Neil in Game 5. Boyle practiced for the first time since the hit Friday and said his availability would depend on how he felt in the hours after practice.

Dubinsky absorbed a hit late in Game 7 against the Senators and did not return to the ice for the final 11 minutes and did not practice Friday.

If one or both are unable to play, defenseman Steve Eminger could return to the lineup for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in mid-March. Tortorella could also move defenseman Stu Bickel to forward, a position he played earlier in the season. Forward John Scott, who has yet to appear in the postseason and hasn't played since March 9.

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Posted On Friday, 04.27.2012 / 4:25 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Boyle skates with teammates

New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle skated Friday for the first time since suffering a concussion during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators five days ago.

Boyle, who had three goals in five games against the Senators, rode a stationary bike Thursday morning and was cleared to participate in on-ice activities. As is the case when recovering from any concussion, how Boyle feels after exerting himself will determine his availability for Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

"This is my first day on the ice. I felt pretty good, but we'll see," Boyle told reporters at the Rangers' practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. "It's all how you react when you take another step, so I have no idea."

Boyle sustained his concussion when Senators forward Chris Neil delivered a huge body check just after Boyle released a shot early in the third period. Boyle returned to play several shifts after the hit, but eventually left the bench with about two minutes left and missed the final two games of the series.

The third-line center's absence became a rallying point for the Rangers in Game 6, as forward Brandon Prust fought Neil with the Senators leading 1-0 late in the first period. The Rangers would score the next three goals in a season-saving 3-2 victory in Ottawa.

"That means a lot to me," Boyle told reporters. "The teammate thing and the whole code and all that, that's great. But the whole friendship thing ... they were texting me and it felt really good. I felt blessed and loved and everything you can say. That was pretty awesome."

To fill Boyle's role on the third line, Rangers coach John Tortorella moved Brandon Dubinsky into that spot. But Dubinsky missed the final 11 minutes of Game 7 against the Senators on Thursday with a likely lower-body injury and did not participate in practice Friday.

When asked about the status of Boyle and Dubinsky, Tortorella told reporters, "No update."

If Boyle avoids a setback and Dubinsky isn't well enough, it's a simple lineup swap. But if both players are unavailable for the series opener against the Capitals, Tortorella could insert defenseman Steve Eminger, who hasn't played since March 15 due to an ankle injury, into the lineup. Eminger could act as a seventh defenseman or it could allow defenseman Stu Bickel to act as the 12th forward, a role he played briefly in the regular season.

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Posted On Friday, 04.27.2012 / 12:40 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Rangers and Caps to renew playoff rivalry

NEW YORK -- For the third time in four years, the Rangers will face the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Things have not gone well for the Rangers in those matchups, both of which occurred in the first round. In 2009, the seventh-seeded Rangers let a 3-1 series lead slip away and lost in seven games. Last year, the eighth-seeded Rangers lost in five games to the top-seeded Caps.

The shoe is on the other foot this time around -- the Rangers enter the series as the No. 1 team in the East with the seventh-seeded Capitals as the underdogs.

None of that matters to Henrik Lundqvist, the losing goalie in those previous two encounters.

"The past is the past," Lundqvist said after the Rangers won Game 7 by beating Ottawa 2-1 on Thursday. "I don't think about what happened last year or whatever. It's different teams. We're in a different place and they're in a different place. I'm going to approach it the same way I approached this one, not overthink it or try to do too much. Their top guys are really talented and can make some big plays out of nothing, so we have to be ready."

The Caps have won four of the previous six postseason meetings between the teams. But both of the Rangers' wins have come in this round -- New York upset Washington in 1986 and beat the Caps in five in 1994 on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.

The teams split four games during the regular season, with team earning a victory in the other's building.

"I don't know honestly how much is going to change game-wise," Lundqvist said. "It's the playoffs. It's more physical. It might be similar, maybe not, who knows, but for me personally it doesn't really change. I'm going to approach it the same way and I have to play my game the same way. So, yeah, it doesn't change for me."

Both teams are coming off seven-game series and won't have much rest entering the conference semifinals.

"They went seven games as well and have very confident players," Rangers forward Marian Gaborik said. "We have to get ready for those guys and play our game. It's going to be another tough series."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 1:28 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers sticking with Game 6 lineup

NEW YORK -- Things went so well for the Rangers in Game 6 that they won't make any changes to their lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

The Rangers won 3-2 in Game 6 to force the deciding game Thursday.

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust
Artem Anisimov - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Brian Boyle (concussion) will miss his second straight game.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 1:22 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers leaning past Game 7 experiences

NEW YORK -- Brad Richards not only knows what it means to play in a Game 7, but he has plenty of experience in what it takes to win one.

As a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, his club came away with wins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, and Richards captured a Conn Smythe Trophy along the way. Along with Marian Gaborik, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp, Richards is one of four current Rangers to win a Game 7.

That experience will be valuable with the Rangers facing the Ottawa Senators on Thursday in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"That's part of the process, is not losing your cool and channeling everything and using the energy in a positive way," Richards said. "I don't know how it will all work out, but everybody individually has to remember to do that and treat it more as an opportunity and fun and not think of any of the pressure or anything like that. There's pressure on both teams. It's Game 7. We both want to go on. We just want to have fun and enjoy it. It's a great time to be a hockey player when you get to play in a Game 7."

Several Rangers were part of the 2009 club that lost Game 7 to the Washington Capitals in the conference quarterfinals. The seventh-seeded Rangers held a 3-1 lead in that series before losing three straight to the second-seeded Caps.

This time around, the confidence level is different. The top-seeded Rangers are coming off a 3-2 road win in Game 6 and feel a lot better about their chances entering this Game 7.

"There's a little more positive energy in the group here winning the last game under pressure and going into this game compared to last time, when we let it slip," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "Once you're out there you're going to have the same feeling and approach it the same way, but right now I think the feeling is a little different, yeah, having won the last game under pressure."

Coach John Tortorella believes home-ice advantage is meaningless except for when it's a Game 7. He wouldn't delve into details, but said, "I just feel that we are at an advantage coming into our building for a Game 7."

The Senators probably feel differently. They went 2-0-0 at Madison Square Garden in the regular season and took two of three at MSG during this series. But the Rangers, who went 27-12-2 at home this season, believe all that goes out the window in a Game 7.

"We're in our comfort zone," Richards said. "I'd rather be here than anywhere else because it's comfortable. It doesn’t always mean you're going to win. It's still your building you've played in all year in front of your fans."

The Rangers are a young team with many of its players getting their first taste of a Game 7. Lundqvist said having the home-ice advantage -- and someone like Richards -- on which to lean can make a difference.

"I think it calms down a lot of guys to have been part of things like before," Lundqvist said. "They know what it takes. All year he has stepped up at critical moments and it just shows what kind of player he really is. Hopefully he can keep doing it here."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 11:36 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Callahan practices, will be in lineup; Boyle out

NEW YORK -- If there were any concerns about Ryan Callahan's availability for Game 7 on Thursday night, he put them to rest this morning.

The Rangers' captain took part in practice in preparation for a do-or-die contest with the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden after being given a "maintenance day" Wednesday. Callahan blocked a shot with his hand during Game 6 and received attention from a trainer on the bench but stayed in the game.

Callahan showed no ill effects from the injury at practice and said he is "fine" for Game 7.

In other injury news for the Rangers, center Brian Boyle (concussion) did not participate in the game-day skate and will not be available.

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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 11:48 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Lundqvist irate about Spezza's goal

OTTAWA -- It didn't affect the outcome of the game, but it certainly affected the mood of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist afterward.

With the Rangers leading Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators 3-1 in the final minutes, Jason Spezza ripped a shot on net that was stopped by Lundqvist. During the ensuing scramble around the net, the puck was jarred loose and swept into the net to cut the lead to 3-2.
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:42 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Game 6 lineup for Rangers

OTTAWA -- It appears the only lineup change for the New York Rangers heading into Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Ottawa Senators will be the insertion of Carl Hagelin in the place of Brian Boyle, who is out with a concussion.

Hagelin was suspended the past three games for an elbow to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2.

Hagelin will likely return to his place on the left wing with center Brad Richards and right wing Marian Gaborik on the top line. With Boyle out, the Rangers could turn to Brandon Dubinsky to center the team's third line, which has matched up with Ottawa's top line that features Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.

As is customary in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, lineups are subject to the change, but this is likely what the Rangers will look like at Scotiabank Place.

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust
Chris Kreider - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

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