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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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