The Madison Square Garden crowd gave the New York Rangers the most noticeable boost of any home team thus far in the postseason, but in tonight’s Game 2 against the Senators, New York will need to control the puck more consistently while Ottawa re-adjusts to the strong forecheck.
Hanging on to a 1-0 lead, a timely second-period timeout by John Tortorella helped the Rangers regain the their composure, but the Senators recovered some important momentum by the end of the night.
“If we defend the right way we’re pretty comfortable with the puck in our end but definitely we want to be in their zone a lot more than we were in the first game,” Rangers center Derek Stepan said.
Trailing 4-0, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean switched up his lines, promoting captain Daniel Alfredsson to the top line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, which helped Alfredsson put the Senators on the board halfway through the third period. If MacLean decides to keep this trio intact tonight, the Rangers may have a tougher challenge controlling the puck and constraining the Ottawa offense.
“We might do it within the game or before the game. I haven’t decided yet,” MacLean said.
This decision may be conditional on the type of start the Rangers get tonight. If the Blueshirts can control the puck early, MacLean may stir things up sooner than he did Thursday night.
New York showed its strongest forecheck in some time, rarely easing up on the Senators in their own zone. The Senators are going to look for more opportunities in the early minutes of the opening frame in an effort to continue the momentum from the end of Game 1.
“We definitely don’t want to defend as much as we did in the first game because they have guys who can strike pretty quickly if given the opportunity,” said Rangers center Brian Boyle.
Given New York’s overwhelming success when scoring first, MacLean would be wise to send his big guns out early in order to capture that coveted opening goal.
The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m.
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