NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn't make many changes to his lineup as the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers progressed. But the changes he did make reaped instant rewards.
The latest example was Vigneault's decision to dress Daniel Carcillo for Game 7 after the forward was a healthy scratch the previous two. Carcillo rewarded his coach by scoring in the second period and sparking the Rangers' 2-1 series-clinching win at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
"I just felt that in a Game 7 like this I'd rather go with experience. He had been in those situations before," Vigneault said. "He came up and did a good job and scored that first big goal for us."
It wasn't the first time this series Vigneault's hunch about Carcillo paid off. After sitting out the first two games, Carcillo played in Game 3 and scored New York's final goal in a 4-1 win. The energy and occasional scoring he provided when he did play is part of the reason the Rangers are moving on to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I don't always score goals but I wanted to give the team as much of a lift as I can. To get on the board and help in a Game 7 is always special," Carcillo said. "You get your opportunities. Guys like us go in and out and you try to make the most of it."
Carcillo was one of three players who rotated at the right wing spot alongside Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin. In each instance, whoever was called on found a way to contribute.
It started with rookie Jesper Fast, who in his first playoff game got his first NHL point with an assist on Hagelin's goal in Game 1. After Carcillo played Games 3 and 4 in Philadelphia, J.T. Miller was inserted into the lineup and had an assist in each of the two games he played. When Vigneault decided to go back to Carcillo for Game 7, he again provided a big play.
"That's part of coaching. You've got to figure out what you feel is best for the group," Vigneault said. "Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."
It worked out more often than not for the Rangers, thanks in no small measure to Richards and Hagelin's ability to adapt to whoever their right wing might be. Each player brought a different skill set, and each time the line found a way to make it work.
"We're in a battle. I try to communicate and help whoever is going to be there that night. Luckily, it seems like every night someone has contributed when they've come in," Richards said. "Someone is doing something right."