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Rangers figuring out Canadiens' Tokarski as they go

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin paused for a few seconds after he was asked if Montreal Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski has surprised him and his teammates in any way in the Eastern Conference Final.

"Not really," he said.

Interesting, considering the Rangers had not faced Tokarski this season before Game 2. Tokarski played three NHL games this season and had 10 regular-season games on his resume before making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut on Monday at Bell Centre.

"We knew who he was before, just never played against him," Hagelin said. "But he's been good at every level he's played at. We know any goalie in this League is going to be a good goalie."

Now they know more about him, including some of Tokarski's tendencies that if exploited could be a determining factor in the best-of-7 series.

The Rangers lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Tokarski made 35 saves in Montreal's 3-2 win in Game 3 on Thursday at the Garden.

"Just like any other goalie, he's really good at stopping the puck when he can see it," Hagelin said. "He comes out pretty far. He's really aggressive at the shooter, but at the same time he made some good saves when we made lateral plays. Overall he's a good goalie."

Two of Tokarski's best saves came on lateral plays that set up Rangers forward Martin St. Louis with great looks from the right side of the slot. Tokarski stopped them both, using his pad stacked with his glove on the first one, and his glove to deflect away the second one.

"He's made all the saves he had to make, and I think it's just a matter of getting in front of him, causing chaos, screening, bearing down on the chances that we do get," Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein said. "It's the unknown aspect. We've seen him for two games now and we saw some clips against him, I think it was against Buffalo. I mean, you know what to expect."

Rangers forward Chris Kreider also noted Tokarski's penchant for challenging shooters, saying he plays higher in the goal crease than Price and finds himself outside of the blue paint more than Montreal's usual No. 1 goalie.

Tokarski, though, also is four inches shorter than the 6-foot-3 Price. Klein said Tokarski's height could be a disadvantage if the Rangers do a better job shielding his vision with screens in front of the net.

"There are little things that he does really well and there are some things that you might be able to take advantage of," Klein said. "He's a little bit smaller than Carey, and I think [because of that] fact we need to get a little more traffic on him, maybe take his eyes away."


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