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Rangers vs Senators - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Callahan, Lundqvist provided intangibles in opener

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Marian Gaborik is the flashy goal-scoring machine, an essential part of any team looking to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Brad Richards is the high-priced free agent signed to add stability and championship experience to a young squad.

But ask anyone around the New York Rangers about captain Ryan Callahan and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and the two words most often associated with them are "heart" and "backbone," respectively.

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Senators find some positives in Game 1 loss

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Falling behind by four goals isn't usually an indicator that a team had a chance for a victory in a Stanley Cup Playoff contest.

But that's not how Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean sees it.

The Senators were trailing 1-0 midway through the second period against the top-seeded New York Rangers on Thursday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden, but they were beginning to overwhelm the heavy favorites. The Rangers were hemmed in their own zone for two consecutive shifts, resulting in a timeout from coach John Tortorella to relax the troops -- who were seeing the game start to slip away.

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Rangers, Senators possess share of playoff neophytes

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Are you experienced?

If that question is posed to members of the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers, chances are the answer will be a resounding no.

When these two teams take the ice at Madison Square Garden for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), the top-seeded Rangers will have six players on their roster who have never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the Senators will have 10.

At this time of year, a high premium is placed on players who have a resume filled with deep postseason runs. Each team has its share of those players, too -- the Rangers have Brad Richards, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp; the Senators boast captain Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Sergei Gonchar.

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Power play one problem for Penguins in Game 1

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby's message after practice Thursday was predictable, yet poignant.

The Penguins need to move on to Game 2 on Friday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN), but they absolutely cannot forget about how and why they wasted a three-goal lead en route to a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

"Today you come to practice and try to adjust or make changes on things you want to do better going into the game tomorrow," Crosby said. "We know that game is over and we just have to make sure we're better. There are a lot of things that went on that were in our control, and our focus is on that."

Among those is the power play, which never generated any sustained pressure on the Flyers' penalty killers. Pittsburgh went 0-for-3 with five shots on the man-advantage.

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Kreider joins Rangers, will have to earn ice time

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We are happy he's here and he's a Ranger. From there, we go day by day. I'm not going to tell you any of our lineups. But this is a young man that we feel has a great future, and it started with us today. He signed, he's with us, and we move on with our business."
-- John Tortorella

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Following his first practice with the New York Rangers, 20-year-old Chris Kreider made it clear that his time isn't now.

"They definitely sent the message that if you want to play, you have to prove you're ready to play," Kreider said. "You're going to have to earn your ice time. That's the way it should be. I have no expectations coming in, just trying to be a sponge and learn from everyone."

It has been a whirlwind past few days for Kreider, who decided to forego his senior season with Boston College to sign with the Rangers, who made him the 19th pick of the 2009 NHL Draft. How the 6-foot-3, 217-pound winger fits into the lineup of a team that won 51 games and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference is a question to which no one has an answer right now.

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Confident Greening complements Sens' top line

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

KANATA, Ont. -- Ottawa Senators rookie Colin Greening had no idea what was in store for him this season.

"The expectations coming into this season were that I wanted to be in the lineup full-time. Where I was going to be, I had no idea," Greening told NHL.com.

"We had a lot of young prospects, we had [Mika] Zibanejad, we didn't really know if we were going to keep him or not. We had 13 forwards in our contract. You never really know coming into camp exactly what line you're going to be on, so my goal was to have a good camp, prove that I should be a mainstay in the lineup every single night. Anything more than that was unrealistic."

Where Greening ended up was on the top line of the Senators -- a team on the rebound. Rebuilding clubs see a great deal of line shuffling, as they attempt to forge chemistry among players. But Greening's play has seen him remain on the first line alongside high-powered forwards Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. Getting the chance to share ice time with the veterans has been a boost to Greening's ego.

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Karlsson elated about return to playoffs

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

KANATA, Ont. -- Erik Karlsson has been on the radar of every team in the National Hockey League. With the postseason set to begin, the New York Rangers have him in their sights, but the Ottawa Senators defenseman remains as jovial as ever. The 21-year-old has been building toward this moment.

Erik Karlsson
Defense - OTT
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 59 | PTS: 78
SOG: 261 | +/-: 16
"I remember we were starting in Pittsburgh [two seasons ago], and you could just feel it was a bit different atmosphere in the rink," said Karlsson, who had a goal and six points in the Senators' first-round loss to the Penguins. "It's picking up a bit time by time, and it's definitely an exciting thing to be a part of and I've been waiting for this moment for over a season now."

With 19 goals and 78 points in 81 games, Karlsson's offensive firepower played a major role in the resurgence of the Senators. The Swede finished the regular season with 59 assists -- tying him with Evgeni Malkin for third in the League, and first among all NHL defensemen. Karlsson realizes he needs to be a contributing factor for his team to achieve success against the Rangers.

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Will playoffs be Alfredsson's last stand?

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

KANATA, Ont. -- Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is 39 years old. He realizes this may be his last chance at a Stanley Cup and he plans to relish every second of the experience.

Daniel Alfredsson
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 27 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 59
SOG: 191 | +/-: 16
"I think I look at it as it could be my last playoffs and I'm going to treat it as such, too," Alfredsson said. "Who knows if I'm playing next year (or) if we'll get back to the playoffs -- you just want to make sure you enjoy it and make the most of it."
 
The Senators' captain has become a modern-day hero in the city of Ottawa, leading a club filled with fresh-faced rookies and rejuvenated veterans to the postseason – a position that few expected the team to achieve in 2011-12. The previous postseason saw the Senators on the outside looking in for only the second time in 14 years, and Alfredsson's back surgery at the end of the last season left his future in doubt.
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Why Ottawa will win the Cup

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Ottawa Senators have just as good a chance as anyone of winning the Stanley Cup.

That probably seems like a laughable statement, seeing as how the Senators have stumbled down the stretch to draw the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they weren't given much of a chance of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs by anyone at the start of the regular season, so why can't they surprise everyone one more time?

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Why New York Rangers will win the Cup

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers have an elite goaltender, scoring depth and one of the best shutdown defensive pairings in the League, all the ingredients necessary to win their second Stanley Cup in the past 72 years.

Lundqvist

The Big Why: In his previous four seasons, Henrik Lundqvist averaged 71 games. Except for his first full season in 2006-07, his numbers in the postseason always slipped from the ones he posted in the regular season. Lundqvist has said repeatedly he never feels tired once the postseason rolls around, but the numbers tell a different story.

That shouldn't be a problem this year, as the 30-year-old Lundqvist was as well-rested as ever, and it resulted in a season that could see him win the Vezina Trophy. He barely cracked the 60-game mark, which should make him fresher for a deep playoff run.

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp