GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The insertion of Derek Dorsett and Brian Boyle added an element of grit and physical play for the New York Rangers in Game 2 of their series with the Washington Capitals.
What head coach John Tortorella chooses to do to address the lack of scoring for Game 3 is anyone’s guess.
And since Totorella essentially confessed that he’s given the subject some thought but wasn’t willing to share his intentions with the media after a 30-minute on-ice workout at MSG Training Center, we’re essentially left to speculate and draw our own conclusions.
The first option to return is veteran LW Ryane Clowe, who has been out since Apr. 25 with an undisclosed injury (suspected concussion).
Clowe skated on Saturday morning before Game 2 and was on the ice in a regular jersey on Sunday (instead of the non-contact jersey he was sporting on Friday, so take that for what it’s worth).
When he spoke to the media, Clowe sounded hopeful he’d be back for Monday’s tilt at Madison Square Garden.
“When I spoke to you guys (Friday) and said I was ruling out that game, I wasn’t ruling out that game. (Monday), I’m not sure either, but it’s a possibility. Like I said, that’s kind of where we’re at right now,” said Clowe, who has 18 goals 45 points in 68 playoff games with the San Jose Sharks. “I said (Monday) I want to play so, as soon as possible. So if it’s (Monday), hopefully that’s the case.
“(Sitting out) is terrible, a terrible feeling. As a hockey player who loves to compete, you hate watching games and playoff games are so intense and physical. I just love that. It’s kind of why I wanted to come here, to help make a push in the playoffs and to watch the first couple of games has been difficult. When I come back, whenever that is, I’ll be ready and I’ll just play my style that I think will be effective at this time of the year.”
The other change Tortorella could be contemplating up front could come in the form of LW Chris Kreider, who made an impact in last year’s playoffs after leaving college but was up-and-down as a rookie, finishing with two goals and three points in 23 NHL games while taking several trips to the American Hockey League to play for the Connecticut Whale.
Kreider’s speed could add another element to the Rangers; sputtering offensive attack that has produced just one goal in 128 minutes of action through the first two games as well.
As far as who might comes out for the Broadway Blueshirts, some combination of Arron Asham, Darroll Powe and Derick Brassard could be under consideration, depending on whether it’s one F or two coming into the lineup.
The Capitals will almost certainly dress the same 18 skaters and two goalies they’ve used during the first two games.
Tortorella was questioned about whether or not he needed to guard against having a D-man like Ryan McDonagh caught on the ice too long, the insinuation being the blue-liner should have been taken off during a stoppage in play before the icing that led to a Rangers timeout and then saw McDonagh shoot the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty that ultimately led to the lone goal of the contest.
“If you’re asking me, should he be on the ice in that situation, I’d put him out on the ice 10 out of 10 times in that situation. If it happens again tomorrow, I’ll do the same thing. You guys are really beating that one up,” said Tortorella, who spoke for nearly four-and-a-half minutes on Sunday.
McDonagh, whose final shift lasted three minutes and four seconds, reiterated that fatigue was not a factor in him shooting the puck over the glass.
It’s become that every Rangers’ play needs to step up their game, in particular, the men in the middle — veteran Brad Richards and youngster Derek Stepan, who have combined for no points and need to created more for themselves and their linemates.
One thing the Rangers did better in Game 2 was be ready for the drop of the puck at the opening face-off and they were able to sustain some momentum for a few minutes after that, leading to a shot from Anton Stralman that rattled off the iron.
“A much better start last night. We lose ourselves a little bit in the first period, the middle part of the first period, it wasn’t great,” said Tortorella. “I thought we had a really good start, but our power play struggled and we lost a little bit. But then we played better.”
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan was a big reason for that start, setting the physical tone with a couple big body checks and drawing a penalty on Troy Brouwer.
“You have to. They had a great start to Game 1 and we wanted to try and rebuttal that,” said Callahan. “I thought we did that. It’s got to be part of our game-plan, to get their skilled guys off the puck and take the body.
“We’ve just got to regroup here and get some wins at home.”
The goal-scoring and power play woes are something I deal with in my main advance column and the sidebar is on Braden Holtby’s puckhandling ability and if it’s been one of the reasons the Rangers are struggling to get their forecheck going.
Meanwhile, the Capitals had a relaxing day at their practice facility in Virginia, holding an optional skate.
“It’s exciting. Obviously we’re playing well right now; we’re sticking to our structure and that’s what we have to focus on going into New York,” Capitals centre Jay Beagle told reporters. “It’s obviously a tough building to play in. Their fans are going to be fired up. The team’s going to come out hard, too. In the first five, 10 minutes, they always come out really hard in their building. We’ve got to be ready to match that and come out hard.”
The Capitals aren’t getting ahead of themselves either, that’s for sure.
“It’s a long series. Every series is different,” said Capitals winger Martin Erat. “We played well for two games, but now we go on the road and we have to prove we can win on the road, also.”
We’ll check back in after Monday’s morning skate at MSG.
Until then, what’s caught your attention in this series and the seven others currently underway?
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