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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 7:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Konopka will play Game 7 for Senators

NEW YORK -- Ottawa forward Zenon Konopka will play in Game 7 Thursday against the Rangers despite not practicing Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Konopka is a key player for the Senators despite being on the fourth line. He leads the NHL with a 69.7-percent success rate in the faceoff circle in the playoffs (46 for 66).

Defenseman Matt Carkner will not play for Ottawa in Game 7 due to an injury. He will be replaced by ex-Ranger Matt Gilroy, who played in Games 1 and 3 but has not dressed in a game since.

Center Brian Boyle is again out for the Rangers with a concussion. He hasn't played since Game 5.

Here were the lines, defense pairings and goaltenders during pregame warmups:

RANGERS

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

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jacob Silfverberg

Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowan - Sergei Gonchar

Matt Gilroy - Chris Phillips

Craig Anderson

Ben Bishop

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 2:06 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Sens believe Norris nomination could boost Karlsson

NEW YORK -- As flattered and happy as Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson is to be a finalist for the Norris Trophy, he said it will have no bearing on how he performs in Game 7 Thursday against the Rangers.

"It's totally based on the (regular) season and has nothing to do with playoffs," Karlsson said. "(Game 7) is one of the most important games I've ever played, and hopefully I can play my best hockey today."

Some of Karlsson's teammates, however, believe getting the word only hours before the biggest game of his life could be a confidence builder for Karlsson, who has struggled against the Rangers with only one point in six games. He had 78 points in the regular season, clearing all other defenseman by at least 25 points.

"He's had a great season; he deserves to win the Norris," Ottawa forward Jason Spezza said. "To get nominated on the day of a real important game can be exciting for a guy. I don't think it'll be a distraction. I think it'll give him a little jump."

Ottawa coach Paul MacLean admitted Thursday that he was as surprised as anybody at how Karlsson developed this season. The still 21-year-old Swedish blueliner had 75 points in his first 135 NHL games from 2009-11.

"I just knew that he could skate real good," MacLean said. "I knew if we could get him to be active and to skate he could be a very good player, but I don't know if we felt at that time he'd be good enough to be a Norris candidate. He's certainly played well enough this season to be a legitimate candidate."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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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.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 1:24 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Statuses of Carkner, Konopka cloud Senators' lineup

NEW YORK -- Ottawa coach Paul MacLean has a couple of lineup options for Game 7, but even if he has already made them he wasn't about to reveal the final decisions in front of the media Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden.

Senators defenseman Matt Carkner and forward Zenon Konopka did not participate in the optional morning skate after not practicing either of the past two days. MacLean, though, said both Carkner and Konopka -- who are believed to be injured -- are available.

Judging by the morning skate, if Carkner is unable to play then Matt Gilroy will likely take his spot. Gilroy was off the ice well before Mark Borowiecki, who has not played in this series and played in only two regular season games. Gilroy played over 13 minutes in both in Game 1 and Game 3.

If Konopka can't play, look for either Mark Stone or Bobby Butler to take his place. Butler played in Games 3, 4 and 5 while Stone was in the lineup for Game 5 only. They both came out for Game 6 because Daniel Alfredsson returned to the lineup and Jacob Silfverberg made his debut.

"I'm contemplating a lot of things at this moment," MacLean said. "At this point we're keeping our lineup options open. We're looking to ice our best team, the one that gives us the best chance to win the game."

With all the uncertainty about the Senators' lineup, it is impossible to configure their possible line combinations going into Game 7.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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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.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 2:15 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers turn to Twitter to ignite fans

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- A pair of well-known Rangers have taken to Twitter to start pumping up the Madison Square Garden crowd in advance of Game 7 Thursday against Ottawa (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Marian Gaborik (@MGaborik10) tweeted Tuesday, "Just got back to NYC. We need the MSG fans to take us to the next level on thursday#bringushome"

It was Gaborik's first tweet of the playoffs.

Brad Richards (@BRichards_1991) also sent his first tweet of the playoffs on Tuesday. It read:

"Get ready fans to rock MSG on Thursday night! We need you to push us to the next level! #NYR"

The Rangers anticipate a wild crowd at the Garden for Game 7. They are just 1-2 in the playoffs at home so far, but they feel with the backing of their boisterous fans they will be able to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

"So far home advantage hasn't really played out that well for anybody, but hopefully our crowd can be the difference to help us push our game here, help us get some confidence right away," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "There is no better feeling to win at home. We've got to do all we can to win this game."

Added Brandon Dubinsky: "To do it at home would be amazing. We're going to need those fans."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 2:04 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Senators hope for road-ice advantage in Game 7

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators held their final practice on home ice Wednesday morning before departing for New York. The Senators square off against the New York Rangers for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

The Senators did not skate any lines, but Daniel Alfredsson was seen running power play drills with Kyle Turris, Chris Neil, Sergei Gonchar and Chris Phillips. Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka were absent from practice. Coach Paul MacLean said that both were taking "maintenance days." On Tuesday, Konopka was seen moving gingerly around the halls of Scotiabank Place. Mark Borowiecki and Mark Stone participated in the skate, and MacLean said that Borowiecki would be making the trip to Manhattan with the team.

Heading into Game 7, the Sens are hoping to get a boost from the visiting building. Ottawa won both of its regular-season games at Madison Square Garden, and has taken two out of three games in this series on the road.

"We've played well there, there's no question," Alfredsson said. "I think overall during the year, we've been better on the road than we have at home for whatever reason. But Game 7 is Game 7, and getting off to a good start is important. That will be our focus."

Erik Karlsson only has one point in this series -- a goal scored in Game 2 -- and the defenseman admitted the matchup has been frustrating for him at times.

"[It's been] a little bit [frustrating]," Karlsson said. "[The Rangers] are a good team and that's why they won the Eastern Conference. They've got really good goaltending and it's been tough for us. But I think we've done a good job in what we've [accomplished] so far. Obviously I want to do things offensively, but if I have to do something else to help the team win, whether it's throwing hits, blocking shots or playing [well] defensively, you do what you have to. Offensively, right now, it's tough."

Added MacLean: "I don't think [Erik] needs to do more. We just need [Karlsson] to be [Karlsson]. When [Erik] skates, that's obviously when he's at his best. He hasn't skated the way that we needed him to skate, and on [Thursday] we need him to use his skill as a skater to create offense. He's going to be a target on our team and he has to come up with ways to counteract that."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Lundqvist focused, feeding off energy of series

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Henrik Lundqvist says he plays better when he's upset.

Well, he can recall only a few times in his career when he was as angry after a game as he was following the Rangers' 3-2 win in Game 6 on Monday night. Lundqvist was beside himself that the officials allowed Chris Neil's goal to stand with 32 seconds left in the game despite the fact that he felt he was interfered with and Neil kicked the puck into the net.

"I was really mad," Lundqvist said Wednesday after practice.

So how does he bring that anger into Game 7 Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS)?

It'll have to happen naturally, but if the Senators continue to crash his crease Lundqvist's blood should start to boil.

"I think it's been a similar style hockey each game, a lot of bodies in front, a little more intense, but that's part of the playoffs," said Lundqvist, who on Wednesday was announced as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. "I expect it to be crowded and a little more physical. I don't mind it. I like when two teams are fighting and competing. I kind of feed from that a little bit. Sometimes I play better when I'm a little upset."

Lundqvist, though, will not go into Game 7 angry. He will instead be focused on anything and everything that is in his power to control.

He's played in enough big games (Game 7 against Washington in 2009, the gold-medal game in the 2006 Olympics, the 2012 Winter Classic) to understand how best to approach this one.

"Mentally you try to block everything you can't control. You focus on the things you can control," he said. "Every time you're in a game where your season is on the line, the mental aspect, it's a bigger challenge. But if you can just control your emotion and focus on the right things, it doesn't have to change. I'm going to approach this game the same way I approached the last game and the game before that."

Lundqvist added that never having won a Game 7 in his career is not at all a factor now. He said he's living in the moment because he wants to win to keep playing.

"You want to go out there and play, enjoy it. It is a great moment," Lundqvist said. "You worked hard all year to be here. I think you have to see it as a great challenge, then you feel more positive about it, don't put too much pressure on it, and just enjoy it."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:32 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Neil's comments no bother to Del Zotto

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto had nothing to say when asked for a reaction to Ottawa forward Chris Neil's comment after Game 6 Monday that he's sure he will catch Del Zotto with his head down "one of these times."

"I don't even know what he said," Del Zotto said Wednesday. "I'm just worried about (Game 7 on Thursday). It's a big game for us. We played well last game. It's Game 7 in our building and that's all I'm worried about."

Del Zotto hit Neil hard with 5:37 to play in the third period of Game 6. Neil is the player whose big hit on Brian Boyle gave the Rangers towering center with a concussion. Brandon Prust also fought Neil late in the first period.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers practice minus Callahan, who gets day off

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan did not practice Wednesday at the team's suburban training facility, but coach John Tortorella said he was just given an extra day off and he will take the morning skate Thursday prior to Game 7 against Ottawa (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
 
Callahan blocked a Chris Phillips shot with his hand in the third period of Game 6 on Monday. He still played 30 shifts totaling more than 24 minutes of ice time.

John Scott was filling in for Callahan on a line with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider.

Brian Boyle (concussion) was the only other player missing from Rangers practice. He has not been on the ice since Game 5, when Senators forward Chris Neil hit him hard in the open ice.

Here were the Rangers' lines and defense pairs during practice Wednesday:

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

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

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 5:26 PM

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

Michalek will not face supplemental discipline

Ottawa forward Milan Michalek will not face supplemental discipline for using his skate to shove Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi during a pile-up of players in the crease late in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday night at Scotiabank Place.

Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan issued a warning that similar behavior will not be tolerated from Michalek in a phone call to Ottawa GM Bryan Murray on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rangers won the game, 3-2, to even the series at three games each. Game 7 is Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 4:00 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

No qualms from Sens' stars about benching

OTTAWA -- The Senators held an optional practice Tuesday afternoon, but the rink remained dark as players milled in the hallways, kicking soccer balls and getting some rest before Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the New York Rangers on Thursday.

More fallout from the benching of Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson at the beginning of the third period was the hot topic on Tuesday. Both Spezza and Alfredsson (who lost his temper on the bench) had discussions with coach Paul MacLean after the game.

"I think the conversations a lot of the times [with Spezza] are 'skate through the middle of the rink and shoot the puck,'" MacLean said. "We're not disappointed in any way with the way that Jason has played. This is a playoff series where every night the other team makes it hard for you to do things. You've got to stick to it. Those are the conversations that we have."

Added Spezza: "There's no issue between [MacLean and myself] whatsoever. I really like how he coaches the game. That's not saying that I disagree sometimes with how he does things. I want to be on the ice at all times. At times, emotions can come out. But I really enjoy Paul as a coach. I think he's done a phenomenal job."

When asked about his lack of ice time in the third, Spezza's response was short and to the point.

"If there was a message sent, it was received," he said.

After saying Monday night that he would discuss Alfredsson's behavior on the bench with his captain -- the Swede was seen smashing his stick and stomping on water bottles after coming off the ice from a shift -- the coach admitted he had indeed spoken to the team leader about his outburst.

"[Alfredsson and I] had a good conversation about it -- about frustration and how it limits your focus," MacLean said. "He's frustrated. He got hit -- a little quasi-from-the-backside when he's killing the penalty, and I think coming off the injury that he had was part of the frustration he had. You get hit in that vulnerable position after coming back (from a concussion). That kind of led to it."

"[Monday] was frustrating," Alfredsson added. "I thought I had control of it, then I went out on the penalty kill and [John Mitchell] made a pretty good lick on me. I [didn't] see him at all until the last second. Then I [lost] it pretty much. I was mad at myself for not being able to see him. I felt pretty bad for a bit. I know I have to refocus. I don't send a good message to the team by doing that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 3:25 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson 'honored and humbled' by Masterton nod

OTTAWA -- After coming off back surgery at the end of a disappointing 2010-11 season, the future of Daniel Alfredsson’s NHL career was left in doubt.

However, the Ottawa Senators captain battled back with a renaissance year, and on Tuesday was announced as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, along with Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Max Pacioretty of Montreal Canadiens. The Trophy is awarded to "the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

"I'm honored and humbled," Alfredsson said. "It feels really good to come back and play, especially after a frustrating couple of years. The doctors did a great job with my surgery. I got much better this year and I'm having more fun playing. I put a lot of work in, rehabbing and getting ready, and I'm so happy with the success we've had this year. It's been a great group to be a part of and a lot of fun."

Alfredsson's surgery gave him a new lease on life in the League, and the captain has taken advantage. He had 27 goals -- including the 400th of his career -- 59 points and a plus-16 rating, recorded his 1,000th point and was named an All-Star captain.

"Once I had the surgery [in June], even the same day I felt better," Alfredsson said. "That was really encouraging. It was fun to work out again, instead of being limited to what you can do in the gym. It's been hard, but it's been good."

The revitalized leader lit a fire under his team, and for the Sens -- who were not expected to make waves this season -- their captain's perseverance provided a great amount of motivation.

"[Alfredsson's] a class act," goalie Craig Anderson said. "He's our captain, he's our leader. He's very emotional about the team; very emotional about himself. He wants to perform at his best at all times and we want to stand alongside him. His passion for the game is second to none."

Added Jason Spezza: "Coming off back surgery at that age is an accomplishment, and he's had a great year while staying relatively healthy. We were encouraged -- we didn't know how healthy he'd be for the season. We were happy to see him have the success he's had this year, and it's really nice to see him get recognition like that."

The 39-year-old Alfredsson has yet to decide whether he will come back for a 17th season. For now, his mind is focused on chasing the Stanley Cup.

"I'm still taking things day by day," Alfredsson said. "I'll think about it in the offseason, whenever that may be. Right now I'm thinking about Game 7 (against the New York Rangers)."
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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 / 2:11 PM

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

Report: Silfverberg in Game 6 lineup

According to an article by Henrik Sjoberg on Expressen.se, Ottawa Senators forward Jakob Silfverberg will make his NHL debut in Game 6 against the New York Rangers on Monday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). Ottawa has a 3-2 lead in the series and can close the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup with a win against the top-seeded Rangers.

"I'm playing," Silfverberg says in the article.

Silfverberg is fresh from helping Brynas capture the Swedish Elite League championship April 19. The 21-year-old led Brynas players in postseason scoring with 20 points, including a new league-high of 13 goals (surpassing Daniel Alfredsson's 2005 record of 12).

Alfredsson, who has missed the past three games with a concussion, also is in the Game 6 lineup for the Senators.

Silfverberg took part in the morning skate Monday, seeing time on the top line with Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza. After the skate, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said he still was considering the possibility of playing Silfverberg.

The player, though, said the decision already has been made.

"I'm slated to play with Spezza and Michalek but I'm pretty sure they'll shuffle the lines quite a bit so we'll just see," Silfverberg said in the Expressen.se article.
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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

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:37 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson 'looking forward' to returning

OTTAWA -- After missing three games with a concussion, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is ready to return to the lineup for Game 6 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Monday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Alfredsson was injured midway through Game 2 when he was elbowed in the head by the Rangers' Carl Hagelin.

"I feel good," Alfredsson said. "[Sunday] went well, and I expected to feel good. I'm looking forward to [Monday]."

Alfredsson knows his return will be noted by the Rangers, but doesn't feel like coming back from injury makes him a target.

"I don't think I'm any more of a target than anyone else," he said. "I can't put a stop sign on the back of my jersey. I think everyone knows that if you're going to play in the playoffs, you're going to be expected to be treated the same as everyone else. I feel physically fine to be able to handle the physical play."

The captain downplayed the fact that his re-joining the team coincides with the Senators' first chance to close the series. Ottawa currently leads the best-of-seven matchup 3-2.

"It's just another game," Alfredsson said. "As you go deeper into series, the magnitude gets bigger and bigger -- we expect nothing but the best from the Rangers, and we're going to have to play our best, battle for 60 [minutes] or whatever it's going to take."

Coach Paul MacLean said he's grateful to have his team's leader back in the lineup, and hopes he can help out on special teams.

"[Alfredsson] is the captain, he's been here a long time, I think it means a lot to us to have him back in the lineup," MacLean said. "I think he can make the power play better, and just having him in there is going to be a good shot for our team."

Added Jason Spezza: "[Alfredsson] is our leader and we tried to hold things up pretty well while he was away, but we're always happiest when he's out on the ice with us."
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:34 PM

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

Rangers hope to rally behind Boyle's absence

OTTAWA -- The Rangers will be without Brian Boyle (concussion) for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Boyle did not make the trip to Ottawa after absorbing a bruising hit from Senators forward Chris Neil early in the third period of Game 5. In five games, Boyle has a team-high three goals.

The Senators used an incident in Game 1 when Boyle roughed Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, who was also called for roughing on the play, to spark the team to victory in Game 2.

Can the Rangers use Boyle's absence in the same way?

"You use everything," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "I mean, you have to have a win to stay in the season. You don't need much more motivation than that. It's a big game for us. You don't want to see a guy like that go down. He's meant so much for us throughout the playoffs so far. It would be nice to come in here and get a win for him."

The Rangers have dropped two straight in the series and have just three goals in their past three games and just one at even strength. They fired 41 shots on Senators goalie Craig Anderson in a 1-0 loss in Game 5, but as well as the Rangers feel they played in that loss, Callahan said they need to find another level with Boyle out of the lineup.

"I think we have to find another level, especially tonight," Callahan said. "I think they're going to come out hard. We have to find a way to get that goal or that next goal. Tonight's a big game for us and we have to be ready for it."

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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:19 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Silfverberg ready to start NHL career

OTTAWA -- Jakob Silfverberg, who arrived in Ottawa from Sweden on Sunday, participated in the morning skate Monday and was seen skating on the top line alongside Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza. Silfverberg, who was the first of two second-round picks in the 2009 draft, helped Brynas capture the Swedish Elite League championship April 19. The 21-year-old led Brynas players in postseason scoring with 20 points, including a new league high of 13 goals (surpassing Daniel Alfredsson's 2005 record of 12).

If the Senators want to put Silfverberg in the lineup, he says he's ready to go.

"I feel well-rested," Silfverberg said. "I have had a few days off and I feel better than I did. Last week of our playoffs was at home, so that helped.  It's a dream you have as a child to play in the NHL. It's the best League in the world. It's a dream come true just to be here."

Coach Paul MacLean said that he was "considering" putting Silfverberg in the lineup, but had yet to make a final decision.
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:12 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Game 6 lineup for Senators

OTTAWA -- Here is the projected lineup for the Ottawa Senators heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) at Scotiabank Place on Monday.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson confirmed that he would return to the lineup after being sidelined the last three games with a concussion suffered in Game 2.

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Mark Stone
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Erik Condra - Jim O'Brien - Zenon Konopka

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 10:56 AM

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

Alfredsson to return for Game 6

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson told reporters Monday morning that he would make his return to the lineup for Game 6 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Monday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Alfredsson took part in the team's optional morning skate, and told reporters he felt good enough to play. He had been out since Game 2 of the series, when he was elbowed in the head by the Rangers' Carl Hagelin and suffered a concussion.

Hagelin was given a three-game suspension for the hit.

The Senators lead the series 3-2.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 3:43 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson hopeful to play in Game 6

OTTAWA, Ont. – Barring a setback, it appears there is a distinct possibility captain Daniel Alfredsson could play in Game 6 against the Rangers on Monday.

Alfredsson, who has been sidelined with a concussion since Game 2, took part in the optional practice at Scotiabank Place Sunday afternoon, just several hours after Ottawa took a win in Game 5 to take a three-games-to-two lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.

“I feel good,” Alfredsson said. “It’s nice to be back on the ice – I skated a bit on my own on [Saturday] as well. Today’s another step and it’s been a good couple of days. I’m hopeful. We’re obviously going to wait until [Monday] but the way the last two days felt, I’m encouraged. So unless something changes, that’s it.”

While he was frustrated by sitting out, the captain has been impressed with the way the team has played in his absence.

“We’ve done a great job on defense and in our own end,” Alfredsson said. “Penalty killing has been outstanding, but also, just playing hard every shift – that’s been our mentality throughout the whole year. We’re going to give it everything we have and see where we end up in the end. We need another gutsy effort [on Monday] and need everyone to bring their best. “
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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 1:36 PM

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

Rangers need more from Gaborik

NEW YORK -- Marian Gaborik has been extremely quiet during the Eastern Conference Quartefinals with one goal and two assists in four games against the Ottawa Senators.

Three points in four games sounds plenty good on the surface, but Gaborik's only even-strength point came on a goal in Game 1 and he picked up both assists during a pair of first-period power plays in Game 4.

Driving the net and scoring from the high-traffic areas were hallmarks of Gaborik's 41-goal regular season and he said Saturday morning before Game 5 against the Senators that he needs to be better in that regard.

"We have to do more," Gaborik said, "myself and everybody else."

Since jumping to a 4-0 lead in a Game 1 victory, the Rangers have been dominated at even strength with the Senators holding a 6-2 scoring advantage during 5-on-5 play. Both goals were scored by forward Brian Boyle while regular-season leading scorers Gaborik, Richards and Ryan Callahan have been unable to generate anything at even strength over the past three games.

Gaborik said it's about getting back to what made himself and the team effective in the regular season -- going to the net and scoring dirty goals.

"It's very tight," Gaborik said. "It's been tight for these four games and it's going to be even tighter tonight. It's going to come down to battles and whoever puts more pucks on the net and tries to find those rebounds and gets some ugly goals.

"You have to battle for every inch of the ice out there. It's going to be the same tonight. We just have to do it. Everybody has to go out there and work hard and try to win those battles and create some offense. It's not going to be a lot of odd-man rushes, 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, so we just have to get some zone time and find something there."

Gaborik and Richards haven't been the same since linemate Carl Hagelin was suspended after his elbow to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2. Hagelin, who worked well with the duo by tracking down the pucks and driving back defenders with his speed, won't be eligible to return to the lineup until Game 6.

"We obviously miss him," Gaborik said. "We have to find a way to generate more offense. We have to get in on the forecheck and try to be more aggressive. We have to try to hunt the pucks down and get some zone time."

Coach John Tortorella has mixed and matched his lines over the past two games and will likely break up Gaborik and Richards at the start of Game 5. During practice Friday, Gaborik was on a line with Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov while Richards was centering Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, combinations that generated pressure during the third period of Game 4.

Those units comprised the Rangers' top two lines during the early part of the season, and Gaborik hopes the magic he had with Stepan and Anisimov is there again.

"We had some good chemistry during the year," Gaborik said. "We have to get that started tonight, especially 5-on-5, create some offense and be responsible defensively. We have been successful with our forecheck, with our zone time when we played together, that's what we have to do tonight."

Gaborik said his two assists on two power-play goals in the first period of Game 4 were encouraging, but he hopes it carries over to 5-on-5, where the Rangers have been ineffective of late.

"Power play was good. Hopefully we can build on it," Gaborik said. "5-on-5, that's where we have to be better and try to get some offense there. Its' going to be a good game tonight and we're going to be ready."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Projected lineups for Game 5

NEW YORK -- Here's a look at the projected lineups for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Sens forward Jesse Winchester (upper-body) is out with Mark Stone likely making his NHL debut in his place. The Rangers shuffled their lines a bit during practice Friday but should have no lineup changes, but defenseman Steve Eminger (ankle) said he is now day-to-day and could return at any time.

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Erik Condra - Kyle Turris - Nick Foligno
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Mark Stone - Jim O'Brien - Zenon Konopka

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - 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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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 1:14 PM

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

Stone could make NHL debut for Senators

NEW YORK -- Mark Stone called his first trip to Manhattan a "culture shock."

He hopes his first NHL game, which will likely be Saturday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, won't be quite as jarring or unsettling.

The 19-year-old who has spent the past four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL is likely to make his professional debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with this best-of-seven series tied at 2-2. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound winger was taken in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft and was recalled by the Senators on Monday with no expectations of cracking the lineup.

But an upper-body injury to forward Jesse Winchester during Game 4 opened a spot in the lineup which will likely be filled by Stone, who skated on the team's fourth line at practice with Jim O'Brien and Zenon Konopka.

"I came to Ottawa with no expectations," Stone said. "I just wanted to be around that playoff atmosphere and if I can get in, that'll be something special for me. I just want to help the team the best I can."

Coach Paul MacLean wouldn't confirm his lineup, but talked about what Stone would bring to the table.

"We're keeping everything open at this point," MacLean said. "He's a good young player and has had a big year. He has a big scoring ability, good size. If we choose to use him, I'd like to have him on the power play."

Stone participated in the 2012 World Junior Championships for Team Canada and finished fourth in scoring with seven goals and three assists in six games. Stone's early time in Brandon was marred by a concussion and thumb injury during the 2008-09 season that limited him to 39 games.

Stone broke out in a big way over the next two seasons, with 37 goals and 69 assists in 71 games in 2009-10 and 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games this season.

Making the jump from junior hockey to the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be daunting, but teammate Nick Foligno believes Stone has the temperament to do it.

"I remember doing it and I had a little more time with training camp and things like that, but he's been thrown in to the fire so to speak with the NHL playoffs," said Foligno, who went from the OHL to the NHL with a 28-game stint in the AHL in between at the start of the 2007-08 season. "He doesn't have a lot of break-in time. He's handled it really well. He's a quiet guy and he's a happy-go-lucky kid who's enjoying being here. I think that will bode well for him."

Foligno's advice, despite Saturday night being the most pressure-packed game of the season for the Senators, is to relax and enjoy the situation as much as possible.

"I think sometimes you come in and try to do too much," Foligno said. "I think we want to see him play the way that got him here. It's the only offer I can give him and just have as much fun with it as possible because it's a blast. There's a lot of pressure, but if you can get some fun out of it, it makes it really enjoyable and hopefully he'll do really well."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 12:31 PM

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

MacLean: Alfredsson making progress

NEW YORK -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean said Saturday morning that captain Daniel Alfredsson skated and is making progress in his recovery from a concussion.

Alfredsson did not join the Senators for their trip to New York and will not play in Game 5 of the Senators' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Rangers.

Alfredsson has not played since absorbing an elbow to the head from the Rangers forward Carl Hagelin during the second period of Game 2. Hagelin was suspended three games for the hit and is eligible to return to the lineup for Game 6 on Monday.

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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 1:46 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson not traveling with Senators to New York

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators held their final practice on Friday morning prior to departing for New York without captain Daniel Alfredsson. The Sens will face off against the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Saturday night.

Here are the lines as they appeared during practice:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone/Mike Hoffman
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Stone and Hoffman saw time on the second line and coach Paul MacLean confirmed that Stone would be traveling to New York with the team.

“We’re keeping all of our player options open,” he said.

Alfredsson (concussion) did not skate, and MacLean informed the media that the captain would remain in Ottawa, along with Jesse Winchester (upper body). There has been no change in the conditions of either player.
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 12:52 PM

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

Rangers waiting on more offense from top players

NEW YORK -- During a conference call with reporters Thursday, Rangers coach John Tortorella was asked if his best players had been his best players through the first four games of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Ottawa Senators.

"I'm not about to -- in Game 4 -- to start naming names," Tortorella said. "We've had some people, secondary players, play some good minutes."

Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, the team's top-two scorers in the regular season, have been almost non-existent at even strength since Game 1 of the series. They each have a goal and two assists, but they picked up their assists on the power play in the first period of Game 4. Richards' lone goal made it 4-0 during the third period of Game 1 when the contest was long since decided.

Following practice Friday at Madison Square Garden, a tight-lipped Tortorella added, "Our top guys, just like everybody, want to be our top guys."

Richards was more open to discussing the topic and agreed they need to put the puck in the net more, starting with Game 5 on Saturday night with the best-of-seven series tied at 2-2. The Rangers lost 3-2 in overtime in Game 4 after letting a 2-0 lead -- and golden chances to make it 3-0 -- slip away.

"Obviously, we just need to score more goals," Richards said. "It's 2-2 and we lose in overtime. (We need to score) more goals or make it 3-0 instead. We want to make big plays."

Captain Ryan Callahan has two goals and an assist in the series and said it's great that Brian Boyle (three goals) and Anton Stralman (two goals) have delivered, but the Rangers' top-flight guys need to be just that over the rest of the series.

"Your best players have to be at their best, especially this time of year. You need them," Callahan said. "You're going to have other guys step up and score some big goals like Boyle has and Stralman has two. For us to win the series, we definitely have to have our top guys going."

Since that four-goal barrage in Game 1, the Senators have outscored the Rangers 6-2 at five-on-five. The key to rectifying that problem, according to Callahan, is getting more traffic in front of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.

"I think we just have to continue to get pucks to the net, get some bodies there," Callahan said. "I think he's seeing a lot of shots. If we do that and bang in some rebounds, I think we'll be successful."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 1:13 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

No change in Alfredsson's status

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators took Thursday off after their 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers in Game 4 Wednesday. The Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series now stands tied 2-2, with Game 5 sent for Saturday (7 pm.  ET, NBCSN, CBC) in New York.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson [concussion] remains sidelined and his status for Game 5 is unclear.

"Nothing’s changed. I'm just going to come in [on Friday] and see if he's here," coach Paul MacLean said.  "If he's not, he's not. If he is, that'd be great. But I can't speculate what day or when he's going to be here. It's just one of those things you have to be patient with. I think he's feeling better all the time and he's working out. We're not practicing [Thursday] so he's not skating, either. We're in the process of getting him back. I talked to him really briefly. He was real positive and happy with the team win."

Jesse Winchester is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but MacLean wouldn't offer any details on how the injury occurred. The forward left the game Wednesday in the second period and did not return.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 7:14 PM

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

Alfredsson to miss Game 4

OTTAWA -- As expected, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will not be in the lineup Wednesday night for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers.

Daniel Alfredsson
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 6 | +/-: -2
The 39-year-old hasn't skated since Monday morning, but coach Paul MacLean didn't rule him out for Game 4 on Wednesday morning. Alfredsson did not participate in the team's pregame skate Wednesday.

Alfredsson suffered a concussion from an elbow to the head from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin during the second period of Game 2. Hagelin received a three-game ban for the infraction.

The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:38 PM

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

Rangers see physical series as part of playoff hockey

OTTAWA -- After the Rangers won Game 1 of this series, Senators coach Paul MacLean took a different approach to Game 2 by inserting defenseman Matt Carkner and forward Zenon Konopka into the lineup.

The addition of two physical presences worked, as the Senators won Game 2 to even the series. It came at a price, as Carkner was suspended for Game 3 due to his one-sided, one-man bout with the Rangers' Brian Boyle in the first period.

The Rangers won Game 3, but all signs point to Carkner being back in the lineup for Wednesday night's Game 4 at Scotiabank Place. That doesn't necessarily guarantee a repeat of Game 2, according to the Rangers' Mike Rupp, who believes the bitterness seen in that contest is natural during the postseason.

"Playoff hockey is not really an open brand of hockey," Rupp said. "It creates a lot more confrontations. You're literally digging on ice that you want and everyone wants whether it's in front of the net, where the scrums are usually starting, or in the corners. Those little things can turn into a lot, so you just try to gain whatever you can."

Brandon Prust, who led the NHL in fighting majors this season with 20, said he won't know what to expect until the puck is dropped.

"Who knows? Every game is different," Prust said. "Obviously in Game 2, there were some more hot tempers I guess. You never know what's going to happen in every game. Every day is a new day. It's the playoffs, so anything can happen."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:28 PM

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

Projected Game 4 lineup for Rangers

OTTAWA -- Best of luck getting a straight answer from either coach in this series about their lineups, but it doesn't appear the New York Rangers will be making any changes in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Senators.

Carl Hagelin is still out due to suspension, which means Chris Kreider will make his second appearance in an NHL game. Henrik Lundqvist will make the start in net.

These are the way the lines looked for the Rangers in Game 3, and there's little reason to believe they will change Wednesday night:

Chris Kreider - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
John Mitchell - Derek Stepan - 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 Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:10 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Projected Game 4 lineup for Senators

OTTAWA -- Here are the Ottawa Senators' projected lines for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Bobby Butler
Erik Condra - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Jesse Winchester

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Mike Hoffman, who was called up from Binghamton on Sunday, spent some time skating with the second line, but coach Paul MacLean was coy about whether he would use Hoffman, only saying that he was "keeping all options open." Hoffman played in one regular season game with the Senators on Dec. 23, and did not register a point.

There was no update on Daniel Alfredsson (concussion), who was absent from the ice for the second consecutive day.

Spezza said the team has closed the book on their 1-0 in Game 3 and needs to focus only on tonight.

"You've got to cut your losses and not hang on to it," he said. "You learn from every game, every game you take something [away from it.] We did a lot of things well last game, now we [just have to] score and for us, I think it would benefit our team if we tried to get out to a lead. We haven't played with a lead for much in the series at all."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 6:53 PM

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

Special teams haven't been effective

KANATA, Ont. -- Special teams are very important in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There isn't a player in the League who will tell you otherwise.
 
But so far in this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers, neither team's power play has had much of an impact.
 
The Rangers have one goal in 11 chances while the Senators have one goal in 10 chances and rank 13th and 12th, respectively, among teams in the postseason.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:39 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson suffers 'setback' in recovery

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean told reporters Tuesday that team captain Daniel Alfredsson had a "setback" in his recovery from a concussion and his status is unknown for Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.

The Senators took part in an optional practice Tuesday afternoon, following their 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night at Scotiabank Place. The Rangers currently lead the Sens 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.

Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson were absent from the ice. Karlsson and Anderson took a maintenance day, while Alfredsson continues to recover from his concussion. Alfredsson received a blow to the head from the Rangers' Carl Hagelin during the second period of Game 2. The captain participated in the morning skate on Monday and was listed as a game-time decision for Game 3, but did not play. Alfredsson has now suffered a setback in his recovery, leaving his availability for Game 4 unclear.

"We're going to evaluate it and see what it is in the morning," MacLean said. "If [Alfredsson] is better and things go good, we'll evaluate the lineup and make decisions then.

"He's the captain of the team. He's the most experienced player on the team. It's a big loss for any team. I think the team stepped up and played really well. I thought Bobby [Butler] went in and played real well for us. That's what we need to happen. When a team faces adversity, it's an opportunity. We're not replacing Daniel Alfredsson. We don't have that player."

The Senators' practice largely focused on special teams, with MacLean spending most of the skate working with the team's first power play unit of Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Butler, Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar. The Sens' power play is 1-for-10 through three games, with the only goal on the man-advantage coming from Erik Karlsson in Game 2.
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 5:54 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Senators captain Alfredsson will miss Game 3

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will not be in the lineup for Game 3 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Monday night against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC).

There was no immediate indication as to who would dress in Alfredsson's place.

The Senators captain admitted he received a concussion after Carl Hagelin elbowed him in the head during Game 2 on Saturday. Alfredsson left the ice and did not return. However, Monday saw the 39-year-old take part in a full skate. Alfredsson said he would gauge how he felt in the hours between the skate and the game, and if he felt up to it, he would be in the lineup.

"We'll see -- we'll decide at game time if I'm playing or not," Alfredsson said. "I have felt better. [Sunday] was better than Saturday. Bike ride yesterday -- I felt pretty good throughout the day … was active at home with the kids … felt pretty good this morning. Next step obviously is to skate today, which I did this morning, and we'll see what happens."

When asked about his previous concussion history, Alfredsson said he has to play it by ear.

"Every situation is different, you take it as it comes, it is what is," Alfredsson said. "You can't force something like this -- you feel what you feel. I find [it's best] to just relax and go with the flow. If it's good, it's good. If it's not, it's not. You can't do anything about it. The less stress you put on yourself, the more you help yourself."

Despite being taken out of the game, Alfredsson holds no ill will against Hagelin, who received a three-game suspension for the incident.

"It's hard -- I don't think [Hagelin] is that kind of guy," Alfredsson said. "With the intensity and the things that go on in a playoff game, things happen. He gets an elbow up; maybe he wouldn't if it's not a playoff game. If there's one thing that the League is preaching, it's blows to the head. I'm sure they went through [the video] a lot of times and I'm sure they did the right thing in watching.

"I'm not the type of guy who's going to hold a grudge. It's playoff hockey. If it needs to be disciplined, the League will take care of that and move on."
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 12:56 PM

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

Projected Game 3 lineup for Rangers

OTTAWA -- Rangers coach John Tortorella is famous for his propensity to shuffle lines, but he hasn't had to do much of that since the middle of March.

He will have no choice but to make some changes for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Senators, which is tied at 1-1. Carl Hagelin, a staple of the team's top line for the past month, will begin serving his three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2 on Saturday.

The Rangers held an optional practice Monday morning and did not reveal any line combinations, so what follows is complete guess work. Both Chris Kreider and John Scott, forwards who have been healthy scratches the first two games of the series, were off the ice early. Usually, healthy scratches will stay on late and put in extra work with the coaches.

So here's some pure speculation on the Rangers' line combinations. Kreider played a little bit with Derek Stepan during the World Junior Championship in 2010, so that could be a landing spot for him if he plays. Check back during pregame warmups, set to start around 7 p.m. ET, for something more substantial.

Artem Anisimov - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust
 
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel
 
Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 12:36 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Projected Game 3 lineup for Senators

OTTAWA -- Here are the Ottawa Senators' projected lines for Game 3 against the New York Rangers on Monday night at Scotiabank Place:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jesse Winchester
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Kaspars Daugavins, Rob Klinkhammer and Bobby Butler are the healthy scratches. Matt Carkner will serve a one-game suspension for his incident involving Brian Boyle during Game 2. Daniel Alfredsson (concussion) is a game-time decision. Coach Paul MacLean said the captain has taken his baseline test and passed.

Winchester, the latest addition to the No. 1 line, plans on making room for Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek to do their job.

"I'm going to contribute physically and take pucks to the net," Winchester said. "I'm just going to try and grind their team down and use my body. I have to keep improving and matching everything that they bring to us."

MacLean hopes to use Winchester's wheels to the top line's advantage.

"He plays with speed," MacLean said. "He get can get on the forecheck and use his speed to his advantage. He handles the puck fine. That's what we like."




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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 10:29 PM

NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers respond to Hagelin suspension

New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin was suspended for three games Sunday night for elbowing Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in New York on Saturday.

The incident occurred at 10:32 of the second period. Hagelin was assessed a major penalty for elbowing. Alfredsson suffered an injury as a result of the hit and his status for Monday's Game 3 is unknown. Hagelin will miss Monday's Game 3, as well as Game 4 on Wednesday and Game 5 next Saturday.

Sunday night, the Rangers issued the following statement regarding the suspension:

"The New York Rangers accept the NHL's three-game suspension of Carl Hagelin and will not pursue an appeal. However, we are thoroughly perplexed in the ruling's inconsistency with other supplementary discipline decisions that have been made throughout this season and during the playoffs.  We will have no further comment on this decision."

Ottawa's Matt Carkner was suspended one game for a separate incident in Game 2.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 4:56 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Sens guardedly optimistic about Alfredsson

KANATA, Ont. – Ottawa coach Paul MacLean played it close to the vest after Sunday afternoon’s optional skate at Scotiabank Place. The news was guardedly positive on Daniel Alfredsson, who received a blow to the head from the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin during Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Saturday.

“[Alfredsson] was feeling good today,” MacLean said. “He’ll be further evaluated and we’ll see what he’s like [on Monday]. At this point, I don’t know [if he’ll take part in the morning skate]. I don’t have an opinion on [the hit] at any time. It’s playoff hockey. It’s Brendan [Shanahan’s] job.”

Carl Hagelin does face a disciplinary hearing with Shanahan on sunday for the elbow, which was penalized by a five-minute major.

MacLean was also happy with the way his team played in Game 2 after appearing to struggle with the pace and intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 1.

“I think the whole game, we played physical. The puck contests were physical. I thought we handled momentum in the second game better, and we handled the 60 minutes [well], not like the first game where we had a four or five minute lull. We need to keep that going.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 4:49 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Sens enjoy day of rest

KANATA, Ont. – The Ottawa Senators held an optional practice Sunday afternoon, with only a handful of  players taking a twirl on the ice.

Colin Greening, Chris Neil, Craig Anderson and Jim O’Brien were witnessed playing a spirited game of soccer in the halls of Scotiabank Place. Kaspars Daugavins, Matt Carkner, Bobby Butler, Rob Klinkhammer, Alex Auld and Ben Bishop were the few who chose to lace up the skates.

“Today is just going to be a rest day for us, and try and get away from the game a little bit,” Jason Spezza said. “Eat well, sleep well … tomorrow we regain our focus. We went over the video of [Saturday’s] game; stuff we did [well], stuff we need to improve on. Now we park that game.”

After tying their series with the Rangers 1-1 at Madison Square Garden, the Sens are content to get back in their own building.

“We’re happy to be home now in front of our fans,” Spezza said. “We’re excited to see the reception we get here. Now we have the opportunity to use the crowd to our advantage. Hopefully they’ll come support us and give us that extra little bit of energy.”
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Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 1:50 PM

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

Sens need better game from Karlsson

NEW YORK -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs have no bearing on whether Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson wins the Norris Trophy this season, but the 21-year-old looked like anything but one of the NHL's best blueliners Thursday night.

Karlsson was on the ice for two of the New York Rangers' first three goals, including Brian Boyle's game-winner in the second period. Karlsson was beaten to a loose puck by forward Artem Anisimov and was unable to block Boyle's shot from the slot.

With the Senators down 1-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, Karlsson knows he and his teammates have to be better in Game 2 on Saturday.

"We have to step it up a bit here if we want to be a contender to win this series," Karlsson said. "We didn't skate enough. We didn't compete enough. They out-battled us in a lot of areas. We have to be a lot tougher going into their net and making it hard for Rangers goaltender (Henrik Lundqvist) to make saves. It's one of those games where it didn't click for us and hopefully we can play better tonight."

Senators coach Paul MacLean said Karlsson can be better with and without the puck.

"He needs to skate. When Erik skates, he's a dominant player," MacLean said. "That's his No. 1 strength. We need to make sure he's skating."

In Game 1, Karlsson had zero points, three shots and was minus-1 in 24:23 of ice time. It was just the 11th time this season he was held scoreless and finished the game as a minus player; Rangers All-Star defenseman Dan Girardi accomplished that 17 times.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 1:14 PM

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

MacLean considering loading up top line

NEW YORK -- Senators coach Paul MacLean felt his team played a solid 54 minutes in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Rangers on Thursday, save for a six-minute stretch in which the Rangers scored three goals to roll to a 4-2 victory.

MacLean won't make any lineup changes for Game 2 on Saturday night because of that showing, but he is considering loading up his top line.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson was on the team's top line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek during the morning skate while Erik Condra was moved up from the fourth line to play with Kyle Turris and Nick Foligno on the second line

Spezza, Michalek and Alfredsson were the Senators' three top scorers among forwards, combining for 96 goals and 107 assists, but they rarely played together during the regular season. The lack of familiarity won't be a problem if they play together against the Rangers, according to Spezza.

"We've played together at times this year and we have instant chemistry," Spezza said. "Me and Alfie played a lot of years together and we don't always play together now to start games, but we do a lot of times throughout games. He's a real smart player. We read real well off each other. If that's what we go with, there's never adjustment needed."

Foligno believes shuffling the lines will also serve to make the other three lines more dangerous.

"I think it makes the other team be more aware of our first line. They're pretty potent offensively," Foligno said. "It spreads it out a little more. We have a lot of depth and guys can step in. It shows the depth we have on this team. We're looking to have a really good night with Condra and Turris and hopefully all the other lines can step up as well."

MacLean said even if he doesn't open the game with the lines he showed at practice, he could go to them later.

"We're not certain yet if we're going to start the game that way," MacLean said. "We're looking at that, but it's also something we can go to during the game that we're comfortable with."

If the Senators decided to put their big three on a line, they can expect to face Rangers shut-down defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi on every shift. Both Senators goals in Game 1 came with Rangers defenseman Marc Staal on the ice.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 12:37 PM

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

Senators, Rangers stick with same lineups

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators will go with the same lineups in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Rangers coach John Tortorella was asked in the morning where the Rangers needed to be better in Game 2 after winning 4-2 in Game 1.

"Everywhere," he responded.

Even goaltending?

"Everywhere," he quipped again.

Senators coach Paul MacLean will also ice the same lineup, but he shuffled his forward lines at practice.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 11:16 AM

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

Boyle regains scoring touch at right time

NEW YORK -- Brian Boyle was so desperate to score a goal this season that during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 13 that he tried to redirect a knee-high slap shot with his skate.

After scoring a career-best 21 goals last season, he slumped to 11 this season, saying he felt like there was a "force field" on the net at times.

The third-line center has figured out a way to break through that force field of late. His game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night was his sixth goal in his past 10 games.

Boyle said he came into this season not just looking to match his 21 goals last season.

"I wanted to exceed it," he said. "But it's tough when it doesn't happen. But it's been good the last few weeks, offensively anyways. I want to keep building. There's other areas of my game that I can still improve upon."

Boyle said while he was snake-bitten at times, he didn't start playing his best hockey until later in the season.

"The second half of the year, there were some tough bounces," Boyle said. "The first half, I could've played a lot better."

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 5:01 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Senators shake up routine in search of Game 2 spark

NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators broke away from the normal routine Friday following a tough loss Thursday in order to refresh and prepare for a long series.

Instead of holding practice at Madison Square Garden the day before Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Senators skated at Chelsea Piers on Friday afternoon.

While it was a fun experience for the players, coach Paul MacLean also put his team through a pretty intense, hour-long workout.

"It was a good, sharp practice," Senators center Jason Spezza said. "It was a different atmosphere to practice in, with the open concept with the windows, but it was a really focused practice. I think you can tell we wanted to make sure we were sharp, and we worked on some things we wanted to do better. But I thought the guys were really crisp … it was more of a workmanlike day."

Still, for some players, like goalie Craig Anderson, a pair of sunglasses would have probably come in handy.

"It was interesting since there was a glare of the sun off the ice, but it was fun," Anderson said. "It was good to get out there, get some confidence and enjoy ourselves. We wanted to keep working on our game. Work on the little things that, going forward, will help us get to where we want to be.

"But I must say, the guys were taking advantage of the goalies with that glare on the ice."

Spezza feels that MacLean's coaching philosophy all season will only help the team in a tight series against the Rangers.

"I think Paul tries to get us to play a game that correlates well to playoff hockey," Spezza said. "We like to get pucks deep, bang the body and get in on the forecheck and that's why we feel comfortable playing playoff games. I don't feel like we have to change too much because that foundation we've been building as a team all season is how we want to play in the playoffs."

That's something that, perhaps, wasn't evident in years' past.

"Maybe we were a little more run-and-gun and scored a lot of goals in previous years," Spezza said. "You're not going to have a lot of high-scoring games in the playoffs, so we're used to playing tight games. We're not used to blowing teams out, so we're comfortable in those tight games."

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 4:36 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Senators keen to limit turnovers, breakdowns

NEW YORK -- Players for the Ottawa Senators pointed to breakdowns at critical moments Thursday against the New York Rangers as the primary reason for their opening-game loss at Madison Square Garden.

"We have to be better with the puck," goalie Craig Anderson told the media following practice Friday at Chelsea Piers. "We didn't manage the puck well when it was on our stick and we didn't make good plays. Turnovers will cost you."

The Senators committed eight giveaways in the 4-2 loss. In the final half of the second period, the Rangers outshot the Senators, 8-2, and outscored the visitors, 2-0.

"We feel like we can play with them," Senators center Jason Spezza said. "I think we just played pretty good at times, and kind of got away from our game and that's when they took over -- that's what makes them the best team in the East."

The Rangers entered their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Senators as the top seed in the conference. The underdog Senators were seeded eighth.

"They were probably more consistent than us but the feeling is optimism," Spezza said. "You have to be prepared to lose games to win in the playoffs, and we're not going to win them all, so we're optimistic we can make this a series and beat these guys. We just have to play a little better."

Anderson, who allowed four goals on 31 shots, admitted he must also play better.

"There will be breakdowns every game, and it's my job to step up and make the save for the guys," Anderson said. "The less mistakes you make, the fewer chances we give and we gave them chances [in Game 1] and they capitalized."

Senators coach Paul MacLean knows if his team has any chance of advancing in the playoffs, it must learn to play a full 60-minute game.

"We weren't horrible for parts of the game, but in the playoffs, you need to be good the whole game," MacLean said.

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 4:30 PM

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

Kreider studying Hagelin, waiting for opportunity

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Chris Kreider was given an assignment while watching Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators -- study Carl Hagelin.

The 20-year-old Kreider, who joined the Rangers on Wednesday after winning a national championship with Boston College as a junior, won't likely be in the lineup anytime soon. The Rangers' coaching staff is working with Kreider to improve his game away from the puck, and coach John Tortorella felt there was no better to observe than Hagelin.

The rookie used his speed to close the gap on Ottawa's Nick Foligno in the third period and steal the puck to set up Brad Richards for a goal that made it 4-0. It was one of the many things that caught Kreider's eye at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

"He makes defensemen uncomfortable," Kreider said. "He's got an unbelievable first step. He's the best skater in the League. He did a really good job of harassing the defensemen. It led to two goals. It definitely works."

Hagelin didn't pick up a point on Marian Gaborik's second-period goal that made it 2-0, but his pressure led to a turnover by Jared Cowen that resulted in the goal. It was the type of play that Kreider took note of -- literally.

"I was just trying to jot down whenever he used his speed off the puck to pressure the defensemen and get up ice," Kreider said. "He used it in various situations. I went back today and looked at it on tape in a couple of situations."

Kreider said it was the first time that he can remember being a healthy member of a team and not participating in the game. He also said he felt nervious throughout the Rangers' Game 1 victory.

"I found myself jumping out of my seat too when we were scoring," Kreider said. "I feel emotionally invested."

Coach John Tortorella isn't answering questions about Kreider, but it appears the winger is a long way from getting into a game barring injury. The Rangers received contributions throughout the lineup in Game 1, getting goals from each of their top three lines.

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 4:20 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Sens might deploy top forwards together more

NEW YORK -- Don't be surprised to see the trio of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek on the ice a lot more when the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers resumes Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

After all, whenever Senators coach Paul MacLean needed an offensive spark at any point this season, he usually had the team's top-scoring forwards leading the charge.

"They bring a lot of experience and it's definitely a line that can generate offense on a consistent basis," MacLean told the media following his team's practice Friday at Chelsea Piers.

"If we do that, we'll have to juggle things a little bit; we might do it within the game or before the game. I haven't decided yet."

Sitting out the optional practice were captain Alfredsson, forward Chris Neil and defenseman Erik Karlsson. MacLean said all three players were just resting and will be in the lineup Saturday.

In a 4-2 loss Thursday to the Rangers in Game 1, Spezza spent a majority of the game centering Colin Greening and Michalek. Alfredsson, meanwhile, was alongside center Kyle Turris and left wing Nick Foligno. MacLean did put Alfredsson, Spezza and Michalek on the same line at certain points in the game in an attempt to ignite the attack.

In addition to adding some offensive punch, MacLean also expects his team to play with more of an edge.

"I would expect the physical side of the game to increase anyway in the second game … our physical side of the game needs to improve and we welcome that," MacLean said.

Spezza said the team did their normal off-day routine, watching video and discussing ways they could improve.

"We did a better job of getting the middle of the ice in the third period, getting guys driving on their goalie and just trying to make it harder for them," Spezza said. "They do such a good job of blocking shots and collapsing, that we have to use our points and try to spread the rink a little bit. Some of the stuff we did toward the end of the game got us [two] goals.

"I think another key is having composure with the puck," Spezza continued. "It's easy to say to be composed and take your time, but when you get out there, things are exciting and jumpy. Getting that first game under our belt was good; I feel we'll be a little more composed moving forward."

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 4:16 PM

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

Despite early edge, Rangers wary of Senators

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- One thing was certain among the New York Rangers on Friday -- they expect the Ottawa Senators to be better in Game 2 than they were in Game 1.

That could be disconcerting, as the Senators didn't play poorly in the series opener.

The Rangers used three quick strikes to blow open a one-goal game and roll to a 4-2 victory Thursday in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. But up until that offensive outburst, the Senators were pressing for the tying goal midway through the second period and were a goal away from changing the complexion of the contest.

That tightness of Game 1 wasn't lost on Brad Richards.

"They played really well last night," Richards said. "There was a momentum swing in the game we were able to grab, but they could've grabbed it too. We have to realize we're going to have to be a lot better.

"They had the puck a lot in the second period. If they score a goal and make it 1-1, it might be different."

The Senators held a 22-12 shots advantage at the halfway point of the game and fired home two goals in the third period to make things interesting. The game had long since been decided by the time the Senators made the score respectable, but that late surge combined with the first half of the game definitely grabbed the Rangers' attention.

"They have a great team over there," forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "They've got five or six guys that are world-class talents and can be dangerous with the puck. We expect them to be at their best tomorrow. We have to be ready to elevate our game and match their intensity."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 2:00 PM

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

Rangers didn't allow trying first half to distract them

NEW YORK -- There wasn't an NHL team that had more of a chance to use distractions as an excuse for poor play this year than the New York Rangers.

They opened the season with a two-week trek through Europe as part of the NHL Premiere Series. Upon their return to the United States, their home, Madison Square Garden, was still undergoing renovations, which meant another long road swing through Western Canada.

That wasn't the end of it, as the Rangers welcomed HBO's "24/7" cameras into their lives for a month in the buildup to the Winter Classic, another event that takes players out of their routines.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said Thursday that when his team's hockey life finally returned to normal in January and there wasn't a letdown, he knew he was involved in something special.

"When they left, that's when we gained some normalcy in our room," Tortorella said. "We still have three and a half months to play, and I just watched how our guys went about their business. I was worried about a letdown when the cameras left. I was happy with the way we won (the Winter Classic). That really helped our confidence, and then we just kept on going. That's when I felt we could do something."

The Rangers went on to win the Atlantic Division and capture the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Tortorella said it all started with the trip to Europe to open the season.

"I think that really helped us as a team and to speed up the process of trying to win consistently and being consistent," Tortorella said. "I thought we were consistent in how we went about our gameday business. That's one thing about this group. Not once this year -- and coaches do it all the time -- did we have to go out there and kick the hell out of them because you didn’t get enough out of them the night before to just make sure you get the message across."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 1:50 PM

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

Neil happy if Canada wants to get behind Senators

NEW YORK -- Are the Ottawa Senators "Canada's Team?"

Only two teams from Canada reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year -- the Senators and the Vancouver Canucks. If Canada is looking to pull for one of the two, forward Chris Neil is fine if the nation wants to get behind the Senators.

"We've been there before, going to the Cup Final in '07, so it's fun whenever the whole country gets behind you and cheers for you," Neil said. "We don't really look at it like that. It's the group of guys in here that we pay attention to. You try not to pay attention to what's going on on the outside, who's cheering for who. You just hope when you go out, you're going out and working hard. If you're doing that, fans will come out and support you and cheer loud and get them on your side."

Neil said he didn't get a chance to see the Canucks lose 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their series late Wednesday night.

"I was in bed," Neil said. "I didn't even really watch it. I was getting rested up for tonight."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 1:42 PM

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

Projected Game 1 lineups

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers will ice the same lineup as they did in their regular-season finale, while the Ottawa Senators will insert Chris Neil into the lineup for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Thursday.

The goaltending matchup will be Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers against the Craig Anderson of the Senators.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

SENATORS
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Zack Smith - Jesse Winchester - Chris Neil
Erik Condra - Jim O'Brien - Kaspars Daugavins

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Sergei Gonchar - Jared Cowen
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

RANGERS
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust
 
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel
 
Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 4:08 PM

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

Tortorella preaching discipline as key to series

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers coach John Tortorella rarely addresses the opposing team. On Wednesday, however, he talked openly about how his team needs to prepare to face the Ottawa Senators in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series that starts Thursday.

The eighth-seeded Senators took three of four from the Rangers in the regular season and boast a power play that finished 11th in the regular season with offensive stars Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson.

Staying out of the penalty box, Tortorella said, is paramount against the Senators.

"They have a very good power play," Tortorella said. "We need to stay within ourselves as far as just going about our business, not getting involved in any antics and keeping our discipline. Discipline is a huge part of the game in the regular season -- it's two-fold come playoffs. We've had many conversations about how we have to handle ourselves."

"They have a great power play," captain Ryan Callahan said. "The key for us is going to be staying out of the box. Our penalty kill is going to have to come up big when needed.

The Senators can also be dangerous at even strength, possessing the ability to capitalize on neutral-zone turnovers. Those mistakes plagued the Rangers in their losses to the Senators this season, and it's something they know they need to remedy starting Thursday.

"We know they beat us, we know they have great players," forward Brian Boyle said. "They have a great offensive lineup. They can transition the puck well and burn you if you turn it over. We know that. I think everybody knows that."

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is familiar with the abilities of fellow Swedes Alfredsson and Karlsson and isn't exactly enthusiastic about having to face them.

"I don't know if I'm looking forward to it," Lundqvist said. "They're great players and I skate with them a lot. I know what type of players they are. They have a lot of skill. I think we're feeling good in here. We're excited to start."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 3:22 PM

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

Richards' concern winning, not proving himself

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Brad Richards signed a nine-year, $60 million contract this summer to play for the New York Rangers because he wanted a chance to have success in the spring.

The 31-year-old spoke Wednesday about how he doesn't want to prove himself in the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- he just wants another chance to win, an opportunity that's been a rarity since winning a Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.

"I don't know if it's prove my worth, I just want to win," Richards said. "I'm in my 30s now. The window is slowly closing. I got to win when I was very young, and I thought I'd get some more shots at it by now. I kind of thought, this will happen more often. It makes you appreciate it. It's nothing to do with the worth -- I want a chance to win.

"You don't know how many shots you've got. We've got a great team and have done a lot of great work this year. You don't know and can't say next year we'll be right back where we are. You don't know. Tons of things can happen over the summer. It's an opportunity for me. But I look at it like that."

When the Rangers face the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Thursday, they will do so with a team that doesn't boast much in the way of postseason experience. Richards said that this team reminds him of the young Lightning team that beat the Calgary Flames in seven games in 2004, and that youth and inexperience don't matter much today.

"This team basically got a look at it last year, some of the young guys," said Richards, who was referring to the Rangers' five-game loss to the top-seeded Washington Capitals in the first round. "Some of the other guys have been in it more than that. So they've probably got a little more than we had in Tampa. There's a lot of young teams in the League that win now. Experience is great, but you have to gain it by winning and getting to the playoffs."

Coach John Tortorella, who was behind the bench in Tampa when Richards also won the Conn Smythe Trophy, likes his team's "innocence" coming into the playoffs.

"I think that's a positive for us," Tortorella said. "I'm really trying to allow the team to not overthink a bunch of stuff and continue to go on with our business. The thing I like about this group here is we've had a lot of different things go on with our club right from the get-go and they have handled themselves very well. We're ready to play. I think they've handled themselves very well the past few days."

Tortorella also warned that this could be the best chance for some of his players to win a Stanley Cup.

"You just never know if you'll have an opportunity again to do it," Tortorella said. "That's why we tell our guys when you get into these type of situations, you need to try to enjoy it, too. Who knows what goes with your career. You may never get another whack at it. We're going to be ready to play. There's no question about that. But I want these guys to enjoy this time of year."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

 
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 3:04 PM

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

Having a healthy Callahan huge for Rangers

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The only person who is happier about Ryan Callahan being healthy for this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs than the man himself is probably coach John Tortorella.

"It's nice to have him with a uniform on and not watching," Tortorella said Wednesday, as the Rangers had their final full practice before Thursday's game against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

It was in Game 80 last season when Callahan blocked a slap shot by Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. Callahan suffered a broken foot and could only watch as the top-seeded Washington Capitals blitzed the Rangers in five games.

This time around, Callahan is healthy and looking forward to contributing after he was unable to last year.

"This is what you play 82 games for, is this time of year," Callahan said. "Last year was hard for me, missing the playoffs not being able to be part of it. I'm excited for it this year."

In his first year as Rangers' captain, Callahan had a career-best 29 goals and 54 points. He's a fixture on the penalty kill and is a leader when it comes to hitting and blocking shots.

"I look up and down the bench for him all the time, all situations, and now he had developed into quite a leader as far as his next progression that he's gone through this year," said Tortorella, who also praised Callahan's job performance as a captain.

"I think when you get into that type of situation, and he's still a young man, wearing the 'C,' I wasn't sure how he was going to be coming to me as far as our relationship and communicating through that," Tortorella said. "I've gotten to know him better. I think that's very important with your leaders. It's a bit of a conduit from coaching staff to player. That's gone along really smoothly. He doesn't say much. It's gone really well that way."

Defenseman Dan Girardi is happy to have a team that's entirely healthy, and admitted it was a big loss last season to play without Callahan.

"Losing a guy like that going into the playoffs is not good, but I thought we did a good job rallying around it," Girardi said. "I think this year having him, that's going to be awesome."

"He's a big piece," forward Marian Gaborik said. "We're glad he's there and with us and have a healthy team going in. It's very important to have that. We missed him last year. This is a different situation going into the playoffs as a healthy team."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 4:24 PM

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

Rangers, Kreider agree to entry-level deal

The New York Rangers on Tuesday agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with Boston College's Chris Kreider, the 19th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.

The 20-year-old forward will report to Rangers practice Wednesday and is eligible to participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

Kreider's deal is for three years, but the first year of the contract will be burned when he arrives at practice. TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting Kreider did not receive a signing bonus for this season, but he will receive bonuses if he plays in this year's postseason.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Kreider possesses the size and speed necessary to make the immediate jump from the NCAA to the NHL. In three seasons at Boston College, the Boxford, Mass., native had 49 goals and 43 assists in 114 games and was part of this year's national championship squad.

Kreider had 23 goals and 22 assists in 44 games as a junior.

Rangers general manager Glen Sather has said in the past that he believes Kreider can contribute right away at the NHL level, but it remains to be seen how coach John Tortorella will work him into his lineup, if at all, during the postseason. The Rangers finished first in the Eastern Conference and lack any serious injuries to their forwards right now.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 4:12 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Senators give Zibanejad a look at practice

KANATA, Ont. -- The Ottawa Senators held their second full practice Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their series against the New York Rangers, which begins on Thursday. Here were the lines as they appeared during the skate:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Mika Zibanejad
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Jesse Winchester - Chris Neil
Zack Smith - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Matt Carkner (lower-body injury) was absent from practice for the second consecutive day, but coach Paul MacLean expects that he will participate in Wednesday's skate. O'Brien took a puck off his hand and left practice early. MacLean said he will be evaluated but he didn't hear anything "drastic about it" from the team's physical trainers.

Mika Zibanejad was given time as a top-six forward, leading to additional speculation that the No. 6 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft could see action during the Senators' postseason. Zibanejad, who had one assist in nine games for the Senators at the start of the season before he was returned to Djurgårdens IF of the Swedish Elite League, will head to Binghamton to play in the final two games of the season, after which he would be made available to the big club.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Zibanejad said. "We'll take it day by day. I'm just doing what the coach and [Bryan] Murray wants me to do. Obviously, you hear so much about the playoffs and you want to be a part of it. But I'm here to work hard and just make sure I'm ready when the opportunity comes up.

"[Zibanejad] brings speed and offensive ability, there's no question," Daniel Alfredsson said. "He's been playing in Sweden most of the year and getting lots of ice time. We haven't seen him much lately, but he's looking good in practice. We'll see what the coaches decide."

"We wanted to see how [Zibanejad's] done, now with his season over, and just give him an opportunity to practice with our best guys and see how he looked," MacLean said. "I think right now he's going to Binghamton to play with them this weekend, and he'll be available to us if we feel like we can use him. Basically we're seeing how he's progressed. I thought he skated real good, but he's still a young player."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 12:38 PM

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

Lundqvist to be featured on Sports Illustrated cover

Courtesy: Sports Illustrated (Click image to enlarge)

After a sparkling regular season that may earn him a Vezina Trophy, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist earned a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

The last Ranger to appear on the magazine's cover was Wayne Gretzky on April 26, 1999, in recognition of his retirement from the NHL.

Lundqvist and the Rangers will start their postseason Thursday night (7 ET, NHLN) against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Lundqvist set career-highs in wins (39) goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.930) this season.

Lundqvist's cover is one of two Sports Illustrated will issue this week. Golfer Bubba Watson, who won The Masters on Sunday, will appear on the other cover.

Past Rangers on Sports Illustrated cover:

* Wayne Gretzky -- April 26, 1999
* Mark Messier & Wayne Gretzky -- October 7, 1996
* Mark Messier -- June 13, 1994
* Pete Stemkowski -- May 6, 1974
* Ed Giacomin -- March 2, 1970
* Andy Bathgate -- January 12, 1959

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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 6:00 PM

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

Standout Karlsson presents challenge for Rangers

A win against Washington on the final day of the regular season, and the New York Rangers would have wound up facing the Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Instead, after all the Eastern Conference playoff dust had settled, they found themselves with the Ottawa Senators as their draw -- which means, in part, having to defend against this season's breakout defenseman and possible Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson.

Karlsson led all blueliners in scoring with 78 points and tied Shea Weber for the lead with 19 goals. The 21-year-old Swedish standout didn't score any of those goals against the Rangers, but he picked up five assists as the Senators won three of four in the regular-season series.

Thirty-plus goal scorers Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek will be primary focuses of the Rangers' defensive efforts in this series, but center Brad Richards said they can't lose track of where Karlsson is on the ice.

"He's a big part of their offense, obviously, and it'll be a big focus for us to try to limit his time and space," Richards said during a Monday conference call with the media. "Hopefully we can keep him away from puck as much as we can. He's kind of a rover, he'll jump up in the play, and he's such a great skater he gets back just as quick, so he can take more chances than other d-men can.

"You have to keep your head on a swivel when he has the puck, try to get it out of his hands as quick as we can so he can't be a big part of the offense … start in their end and keep an eye on him down there, don't let him beat you and create those odd-man rushes."
 
Ottawa won both of its games during the regular season at Madison Square Garden, where the series will get started with Game 1 on Thursday.

"They're a very talented team … we plan on making it difficult on them when we start Thursday," Richards said. "If you give time and space they can score goals. That's probably why they [had success against us]."
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 3:52 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Neil skates, status for series opener 'looking good'

KANATA, Ont. -- The Ottawa Senators took to the ice Monday morning in preparation for their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers, which begins on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Chris Neil, who did not play during the last game of the regular season against New Jersey due to an upper-body injury, skated alone prior to practice and participated in the first 15 minutes of drills before leaving the ice. MacLean anticipates that Neil will be ready for Thursday, as does Neil himself.

"I feel pretty good -- went out early, did about 45 minutes … things are looking good for Thursday," he said.

Here are the lines from Monday's practice:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Zack Smith - Jesse Winchester - Chris Neil
Erik Condra - Jim O'Brien - Kaspars Daugavins

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Defenseman Matt Carkner did not participate in practice.

"We're obviously excited to get back in the playoffs as you can tell," Jason Spezza said. "We had a great practice today -- there's a little bit more jump out there and we're just looking forward to getting started. [As for losing the last three games of the regular season], playoffs wipe everything clean. Now it's just looking forward to the first game and getting the momentum."

After completing his season with Djurgårdens IF of the Swedish Elite League, Mika Zibanejad arrived in Ottawa on Sunday and took part in the morning practice. Zibanejad will to report to Binghamton to play in the team's final two games of the season, however, MacLean said "there's a consideration -- [Zibanejad] would be allowed to play for us [in the postseason] … we just have to be sure that's the right thing to do."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 1:00 PM

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

Sens, Rangers set for Game 1 Thursday

The top-seeded New York Rangers will open their quest for their first Stanley Cup in 18 years Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.

The puck will drop for Game 1 at 7 ET, and will be broadcast on NHL Network in the U.S. and CBC in Canada.
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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness