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Rangers are staying positive

- May 3rd, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The New York Rangers were taking their playoff slogan to heart on Friday afternoon.

On the shirt of every member of the Rangers are the words STAY POSITIVE and after dropping Thursday’s series opener against the Washington Capitals 3-1, there were no signs of doom and gloom inside the Blueshirts dressing room after Friday’s half an hour on-ice session.

Instead, there was talk of what might have been if Carl Hagelin had scored on his breakaway on a shorthanded chance just a minute into the second period that would have made the game 2-0 for the Rangers.

Despite losing the special teams battle 1-0 and failing to connect on a 5-on-3 that lasted nearly a minute, the Rangers were focusing on the things they did well, including a power play that still managed to kill off four of five minors in the contest.

“They have a lot of threats, a lot of guys that can pound the puck,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “It’s tough to defend but I thought our penalty kill did well last night.  We got a bad bounce off the end boards there and Ovi grabs one. But overall, our kill did well against a very strong power play. But we don’t want to have our penalty kill on the ice  as much as we did. That’s pretty obvious.”

Carl Hagelin the New York Rangers celebrates with teammates after scoring in the first period against the Washington Capitals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images/AFP)

Rangers head coach John Tortorella wasn’t hanging on the element of luck when asked about the goal from Alex Ovechkin that tied the game at 6:59 of the second period.

“I wouldn’t say it’s bad luck. I don’t think we’re, I’m not going to get into the whole way of the way we do it (but) I don’t think we’re in great position, prior to that,” said Tortorella. “If we were, I think we’d be able to defend that better. These kick boards are live here …the bottom line is, we can’t be down (shorthanded) five times.”

Finding a way to be more disciplined was another storyline that was getting plenty of play with the Rangers who spoke to the media.

On the injury front, LW Ryane Clowe (undisclosed) was out on the ice with a non-contact jersey and said he was not ready to “rule himself out” for Game 2. Lets call him a game-time decision for now, but I think there’s a good chance he’s back in.

The Rangers could also consider dressing C Brian Boyle (leg) and/or RW Derek Dorsett (clavicle).

Boyle skated for the second consecutive day, while Dorsett ditched the non-contact jersey he’s been wearing lately. D Marc Staal is still working his way back from an eye injury and would be considered doubtful for Saturday.

“Yeah, it’s good to see. Everybody skated today. We have a lot of players out there and in the best scenario, everybody is healthy, (there are) a lot of decisions to be made and everybody is chomping at the bit,” said Rangers centre Brad Richards. “I’m not the trainer or the doctor, I don’t know where everybody is (physically) but it’s good to have everybody out there.”

Rangers F Rick Nash drew a crowd after attempting 16 shots on goal in his first NHL playoff game since 2009.

“Yeah, I thought I had some good opportunities, but they didn’t go in. That’s the difference. In big games, you’ve got to bare down and make sure you score on your opportunities,” said Nash. “It was great. A lot of excitement. I wish it didn’t take this long to get back in here but that’s the reality of it. I’m excited to be back.”

Nash will be even more excited if the Rangers find a way to even the series on Saturday afternoon.

Over at their practice facility in Arlington, Va., the Caps were reinforcing the positives and talking about raising their game yet again as the series resumes.

“We talked about it today. A lot of little things we can do better,” said Caps head coach Adam Oates.

For the record, Caps D-man Mike Green — whose blast from the point banked off the end boards and ended up on the stick of Alex Ovechkin — told reporters the play was not by design and that he simply missed the net.

“No. I intentionally shot wide to miss the blocked shot, but I was just trying to put it on net, maybe hit his pillows and bounce out,” said Green. “Missed.”

The Rangers are known for their ability to block shots but the Caps had a 25-15 edge on Thursday.

“Yeah, we know their habits as far as blocking shots, it’s just a matter of getting your head up and being smarter,” said Green. “I think we did a good job of faking at least, holding on to it and waiting for an open time to shoot. You’ve got to give them credit they do a good job blocking.”

Green wasn’t interested in discussing the ways the Caps might combat the shot-blocking strategy.

“I’m not going to give away any secrets,” he said.

What about the keys to trying to take a 2-0 lead before the series shifts to Madison Square Garden?

“You know, it’s two tough teams playing against each other – two teams that don’t give up a whole lot. We’ve got to take the momentum from Game 1 and use the crowd at the beginning of the game and try to roll it over and get a good start in Game 2,” said Caps RW Troy Brouwer, who had seven hits in Game 1. “As you say, last year, no team got a big lead and it’s a new year, though. We’re gonna try and obviously get both of our games at home here and we’ve just got to have a good start and stay structured.”

My main story out of today deals with Clowe’s possible return, while the sidebar was on the reaction by Tortorella and Rangers D John Moore about the rolling-puck shot that he got behind Capitals G Braden Holtby, was reviewed by the NHL and ruled no goal, as the video evidence was inconclusive.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/WiebeSunSports

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