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Rangers focused on better forecheck, net presence

by Kurt Dusterberg /

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The New York Rangers will have a chance to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth Thursday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes. One thing they will need is a bigger offensive push than they gave in Tuesday's 3-2 loss against the Florida Panthers.

"We need to forecheck better and establish a net presence," said Rick Nash, who leads the Rangers with 19 goals. "We got a lot of shots (against Florida), but they were from the outside -- no traffic. The goalies in this League are world-class and you've got to be able to put some bodies in front of them."

The Rangers will clinch a playoff spot with any combination of two points gained in their final two games, or a loss by the Winnipeg Jets to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Against Carolina, New York hopes to add some diversity to its offensive game and remove any doubt about the postseason.

"[We want to] get to the dirty areas, maybe spread the offensive zone out and use the points a little bit," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We talked about trying to use our D, and if we don't get the puck on net, at least draw the forwards out and maybe get a quick 2-on-1 in front of the net or something like that. Just try to be a little more creative in the offensive zone."

For Carolina, Alexander Semin will miss the final two games of the season with a concussion.

Here are the projected lineups for the Rangers and the Hurricanes:


Taylor PyattBrad RichardsMats Zuccarello

Carl HagelinDerek StepanRyan Callahan

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard – Ryan Clowe

Darroll PoweChris Kreider – Aaron Asham

Dan GirardiRyan McDonagh

Michael Del ZottoAnton Stralman

John MooreSteve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

Martin Biron

Scratched: Brian Boyle, Roman Hamrlik, Matt Gilroy

Injured: Marc Staal, Derek Dorsett, Michael Sauer


Jiri TlustyEric StaalChad LaRose

Tuomo RuutuJordan StaalJared Staal

Tim WallaceJeff SkinnerPatrick Dwyer

Nicolas BlanchardKevin Westgarth

Tim GleasonJustin Faulk

Jay HarrisonJoe Corvo

Bobby SanguinettiJamie McBain/Marc-Andre Bergeron

Dan Ellis

Justin Peters

Injured: Alexander Semin, Cam Ward, Joni Pitkanen, Drayson Bowman, Tim Brent

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