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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."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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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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