Whether you agree with the suspension or not, Brandon Prust will not be playing in tonight’s Game 4 against the Devils. With the opportunity to build a two game lead, the Rangers will be without one of their warriors and top penalty killers. It’s a blow, but not a blow that can’t be overcome. Unlike with Carl Hagelin, the Rangers have a few options readily available to replace Prust for the one game ban.
Option 1: Brandon Dubinsky
This option is the best option for the Rangers. With Dubi cleared for contact and partaking in optional skates, he is on the cusp of returning to action. It has to be assumed that if Dubi can play, then he will play. Dubi would be a perfect fit to replace Prust, as Dubi can slide in quietly to a fourth line role for this game, and ease back into playoff hockey. Plus, if Dubi comes back, the penalty kill won’t suffer too much with Prust out.
Option 2: Insert Stu Bickel at forward
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The big news out of practice today was that Brandon Dubinsky was on the ice in a non-contact jersey. This is great news for the Rangers, who have been missing Dubinsky since he went down with his lower body injury. Dubinsky has been sorely missed on the penalty kill, as evidenced last game when Brian Boyle took a penalty, and Derek Stepan was forced to kill the penalty. Of course, the end result was a Devil’s goal.
There is still no timetable for Dubinsky’s return, but the fact that he is skating is great news. Considering it was his leg that was an issue, him being able to be on the ice and moving around can only be seen as a good thing. He likely won’t play tomorrow, but if all goes well I’d assume he will be back sooner rather than later.
As for the lines from practice, there was one minor change, as Mike Rupp moved up to skate with Brian Boyle and Artem Anisimov. Ruslan Fedotenko, John Mitchell, and Brandon Prust were the fourth line.
Artem Anisimov still isn’t playing to the level he has the ability to reach. It is this statement that makes Anisimov both frustrating and exciting at the same time. That all said, Anisimov has provided plenty of big moments for the Rangers this off season and has quietly put together a solid playoffs even if it has been punctuated with poor games and an occasional trip to Hotel ride-the-pine.
A side plot of his offseason may be how Anisimov has pushed his teammate Brandon Dubinsky further toward the exit door. Earlier this season we discussed the potential ‘play off’ between Anisimov and Dubinsky in regard to a future with the Rangers. Both are blessed with skill and ability and both have been productive Rangers yet both have often left you hoping, expecting more.
With the Rick Nash rumours and the apparent inclusion of Dubinsky in the Nash package every man and his dog is aware that inside Madison Square Garden the lust is starting to wear off of Dubi. He’s likely in play and his future is clearly tenuous. He’s not earning his Benjamin’s.
To an extent one could have argued the same about Anisimov. However, the Russian has stepped up (somewhat) this post season while Dubinsky has first been mired in an awful campaign and secondly has now had to sit and watch his teammates work towards a Cup. Dubinsky was poor in last year’s playoffs and one point in seven this time around doesn’t inspire confidence he can do it better any time soon.
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Everyday on Twitter, I see the beat writers giving answers to the same question: Did Brandon Dubinsky skate? The answer has been ‘no’, and the answer will likely be ‘no’ for the forseeable future. Dubinsky is still using his walking boot and has not skated since the Ottawa series. Prior to that, Dubinsky was alternating between second line duties and third line duties (following the injury to Brian Boyle), although this was before Chris Kreider was inserted into the top six.
With Boyle back, and Kreider showing he deserves his top six minutes, the question about the Rangers missing Dubinsky hasn’t been brought up too often. After all, why question something if the Rangers are winning? John Mitchell is doing just fine on the fourth line, and won a key face off that led to Marc Staal’s overtime winner in Game Five of the Washington series. Mike Rupp is playing very well. Ruslan Fedotenko is too.
So the question becomes: If Dubinsky comes back, who would sit? Does the team even miss him?
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It’s a bit of a slow day today. So here are some notes (in bullet point format) from practice, courtesy of Rick Carpiniello:
- Brandon Dubinsky is still out, and has been spotted with a boot on his right leg and crutches.
- Mats Zuccarello didn’t skate, but that’s not all that unexpected. He was likely working off the ice to rehab that wrist.
- Lines at practice saw Ryan Callahan skating with Ruslan Fedotenko and Brian Boyle. Artem Anisimov was moved in Cally’s spot with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. Brandon Prust was with Mike Rupp and John Mitchell. The top line stayed the same.
It is troubling to see that Dubinsky is still on crutches. Makes you wonder how long he is going to be out. At first I thought this could be connected to his stress fracture from last season, but that was on his left leg, not his right. So much for my theory. I still think Dubi plays again before this round is over. It’s the playoffs, he will do anything to get in the lineup.
Welcome to the biggest game in the Rangers recent history, well since the lock out. Those of you who disagree, by all means do so but it doesn’t get much bigger than a do or die game 7 on home ice as the conference’s top seed. Especially with the defending champs and possibly biggest threat (Pens) already out. Musings Time.
Marian Gaborik needs to step up yes, but he hasn’t been that bad. We need more of him, but its times like this that attention is given to the guys like Gaborik and depth guys step up. Exhibit A: Brian Boyle. Exhibit B: Chris Kreider.
Brandon Dubinsky has zero points in six games. Would you like me to remind you how much he earns? What’s the likelihood Dubinsky plays well tonight? I didn’t think so either. See you in a different uniform next October Brandon.
Henrik Lundqvist, Vezina Trophy nominee. Well we’ve heard that before. I just hope the voters take into account the division he played in, his absolute position as most vital Ranger and the fact well, hey… it’s his turn.
The Pens are out. The Bruins are out. The Caps have a goaltending sub plot this April. The Devils and the Panthers aren’t all that scary…. Hey, if this team actually gets past this tricky, awkward Senators team there’s real opportunity to progress. Yes, I am not concerned about the team with Bryzgalov in net.
I wonder how long Brian Boyle is going to be out and how damaging that is to the Rangers (assuming they can squeak past Ottawa).
Respect Time: There is a legitimate chance Daniel Alfredsson, a true modern great of the game, plays his last NHL game tonight at the Garden. Against any other team I’d hope he had a few left in him. Maybe he comes back next year but if he doesn’t…. happy retirement Danny boy.
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So the Rangers lost another heartbreaker last night in overtime. It’s their second loss to the Senators in the series, both coming in overtime. The fan base is on edge, and for good reason. The Senators are a good team, and a team that the Rangers do not match up well against. It’s going to be a stressful series, that’s for sure. But enough of that, let’s get to the musings for the day.
I’m in the process of reading a book called “Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers”, and there was a great quote in the book, from none other than Mark Messier:
“Leadership isn’t about the win, it’s about how you rebound after the loss.”
This statement is more true now, in this series, than ever before. The Rangers have more leaders on this team with Cup experience than the Senators. It’s time for the leaders to take charge. In fact, one of the leaders –Mike Rupp– almost won the game for the Rangers in overtime with his forecheck in the Senators zone. People still rip on Rupp for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it’s the contract, but I get the sense that it’s a feeling of “he doesn’t do anything for this club.” That is so false, it pains me every time I see it. Hockey is more than goals and assists. It’s about dirty work, especially playoff hockey.
Speaking of playoff hockey, is last night’s game what we are reduced to? There were a toal of 12 penalties last night totaling 24 PIMs. Some were legitimate calls, but I can point to two penalties, one per team, that were questionable at best. Ryan McDonagh’s “trip” on Zenon Kenopka in the first period and Zach Smith’s “interference” on Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period were very iffy calls. But such is the life after a dirty first two games. The refs aren’t going to allow this stuff to fly. This is now a special teams series, and that makes most people nervous.
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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you know that Carl Hagelin was suspended (questionably) for 3 games for elbowing Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson in the head during game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Due to this turn of events, the Rangers have lost a key cog in their top line, and one of their biggest speed/forechecking threats.
Chris Kreider was inserted into the lineup in Hagelin’s place for game 3 and acquitted himself well for a pro debut in the middle of a playoff series. By the third period, however, Torts felt that Kreider wasn’t ready to be that guy for the top line and inserted Derek Stepan. The question remains going into Game 4 on Wednesday, who is the right guy to take Hagelin’s spot on the top unit?
Let’s take a look at some possibilities…
- Ryan Callahan- Captain Cally does just about everything for the Rangers, so why not install him on the top line? He could be a huge boon to the forecheck and allow for Richards and Gabby a little more room to operate down low. He also has an unfailing nose for the net, and if those two can generate shots on goal, Cally is a good bet to bang in some rebounds.
- Brandon Dubinsky- Last season’s leading scorer, Dubi would seem to possess the skill set to complement the top line nicely. He has a decent set of hands and can bring some jam to a finesse unit. However, he has had trouble finding the back of the net this season, and has often looked lost between passing and shooting. But, who knows, maybe playing with talent like Gaborik and Richards is just the thing to light the fire under Dubi’s offensive game. Read more »
Brandon Dubinsky had a rough 2011-2012 season. We know this. Many of us, including myself, were wondering when the hammer would fall and Dubi would be traded. It wasn’t so much the lack of production, it was that he seemed to be coasting and disinterested in playing. In fact, Suit and I were big supporters of his early in the season when he was still doing the little things. It wasn’t until later in the season that he appeared to lack the fire he once had.
But then the events of Saturday night happened, and the Gatorade bottles haven’t been the same since.
Dubinsky showed emotion that we haven’t seen in a while, and maybe that unwarranted game misconduct was a blessing in disguise. Dubinsky got tossed for being the third man in on a fight that had no second man, and was livid. One can only expect him to have that same fire and desire heading into Game Three tonight.
Dubi shouldn’t be targeting anyone on the Senators for retribution, that’s not his or the Rangers style of play. With Hagelin out, a top six spot opens up in the lineup. What harm is there to insert Dubinsky and see what he can do with a fire under his behind? The Gatorade bottle still has a bruise, although it was at practice this morning, so there was no suspension.
If Dubinsky even shows half of the fire he had last night, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. Rookie Chris Kreider may be the story heading into this game (if he plays), but Dubi has the potential to steal the show tonight. It’s long overdue.
*None of us were able to get the recap last night, so the always reliable friend of the blog Glen Miller was able to give us an assist. Don’t forget to give Glen’s current project, Fan Junkies a look, and follow Glen on Twitter. Thanks again Glen!
If evidence was needed to prove a hotly contested playoff series can turn any two teams into bitter rivals, look no further than the series between the Rangers and Senators. Prior to this postseason affair between the two it would have been unlikely to hear any fan of one describe the other club as a rival. That has all changed after game two of the series, won by the Senators 3 – 2 in OT.
Now, on to the game.
- Sens coach Paul MacLean set the tone for the contest before the opening puck drop by inserting Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner into the lineup in place of Kaspars Daugavins and Matt Gilroy. The goal was clear; MacLean wanted to play a more physical brand of hockey. It would take just 2:15 for the game to get physical.
Apparently not happy with Brian Boyle’s actions toward young defenseman Erik Karlsson in game one, Carkner went looking for the Rangers big center. He found him and appeared to challenge Boyle to a fight, something Boyle seemed to decline. Carkner wouldn’t take no for an answer and sucker-punched Boyle, knocking him to the ice before throwing several more punches to the body.
A melee ensued with all 10 skaters joining in. With Carkner landing punch after punch and the linesmen late in getting involved, Brandon Dubinsky would jump in to remove Carkner from Boyle. Once order was restored, for the moment at least, the officials would gather to decide on the resulting penalties.
Carkner would get two for roughing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct. Dubinsky surprisingly would also get two for roughing and a game misconduct for being third guy in an altercation. The Rangers would end up with a full five-minute PP chance out of it all. Unfortunately the Blue Shirts couldn’t get anything going on their first man-advantage opportunity.
- Chris Neil would continue the Senators targeting of Boyle when he too challenged Boyle at 8:17. This time Boyle would accept the invitation. The fight didn’t last long and no one landed any big-time punches but it was important for Boyle to stand up for himself.
- Just 0:15 later, Sergei Gonchar would take a tripping penalty and give the Rangers their second man-advantage. This time the Blue Shirts would capitalize with Anton Stralman sneaking a slapshot by Craig Anderson. The goal was assisted by Dan Girardi and Artem Anisimov. For Anisimov it was his third assist of the series.
- The goalies would trade great saves late in the period. Hank would stop a deking Nick Foligno with the right pad on a mini-breakaway. Anderson, following a late elbowing penalty to Chris Phillips, stoned Ryan Callahan all alone in front of the cage with just 0:46 left in the period.
- The first frame would end with each team getting 10 shots on goal and the Rangers holding onto a 1 – 0 lead.
- The Rangers controlled play for the better part of the first half of period two out-chancing the Senators 6 – 1 according the numbers given by NBCSN.
- During the physical first period, the Rangers maintained discipline. That changed in period two. Carl Hagelin got his elbow up into the head of Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson on a check along the LW boards at 10:32. The refs would assess a major penalty to the Rangers rookie and the Senators would take advantage.
- Karlsson, held in check for much of the game to this point, drew the Sens even on the ensuing PP. From behind the goal line on the RW side Karlsson snapped a puck toward the front of the net where it deflected off the skate of Michael Del Zotto and into the net. Filip Kuba earned the lone assist on the goal.
- Later Karlsson appeared to get away with a slew foot to Richards but the referees certainly did catch the retaliation and penalized Richards two minutes for roughing. The Rangers would kill off the PP.
- Despite an early advantage in play, the Rangers would only finish the period with a 12 – 10 lead in shots. Read more »