The New York Rangers could have some reinforcements coming for Game 2 of its Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Washington Capitals, which should help take their minds off the costly penalties and near misses that derailed them during Game 1.
Injured forwards Ryane Clowe (undisclosed), Brian Boyle (right leg) and Derek Dorsett (clavicle), and defenseman Marc Staal (eye) all participated in a light practice at Verizon Center Friday, and Coach John Tortorella made it clear he would call upon them if they could help New York get past the Capitals.
It was the second straight day Boyle appeared on the ice, and could signal his return to the lineup is imminent. Clowe, meanwhile, was in a white non-contact jersey since it was his first time skating since an undisclosed injury suffered back on April 25 in the second-to-last game of the regular season.
Clowe, 30, didn’t rule himself out of Game 2 and told reporters he planned to speak with the team’s trainers about his availability. He has three goals and 16 assists this season. In addition, Dorsett skated without restrictions for the first time since suffering a broken clavicle in March.
Tortorella noted the urgency of the playoffs would figure into his decision-making process on when a player should return to the lineup.
“If we don’t win, we’re done. So I don’t give a damn about the conditioning,” Tortorella said. “If I think a player is gonna help us, he’s going to play.”
The Rangers now find themselves in a tenuous spot, having to win at the Verizon Center Saturday afternoon to avoid falling behind 2-0 in this series. Forward Rick Nash called it “that much more of a must win.” But following practice Friday, his teammates were forced to rehash the mistakes that got them here.
As was the case in the days leading up to Game 1, special teams were a popular topic of discussion, particularly how the league’s least-penalized team (New York) gave the NHL’s best power play (Washington) five opportunities Thursday night.
Forward Carl Hagelin said the message from Tortorella has been simple: Be more disciplined and stay out of the box. “Unless you bring someone with you.”
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh added that the Rangers were too emotional at times and need to match Washington’s speed better in order to negate some of the penalties. New York forwards Taylor Pyatt (elbowing) and Arron Asham (illegal check to the head) committed consecutive penalties at the start of the second period, and the second one led to Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying goal.
When you end up taking that many so quickly in a game, it’s going to happen and that’s what did,” Tortorella said. “Things like that is going to happen when there are good players on the ice and us down a man for so long. We can’t be there. We will not win games if we’re there. So forget about how you defend it, we can’t be in the box that much.”
The Rangers also went 0 for 4 when they were on the power play and failed to convert on several point-blank chances, which was both a comforting and concerning fact.
New York took solace in controlling much of the even strength action following the opening 10 to 15 minutes of Thursday’s game, although Tortorella would like to see the Rangers play more in Washington’s zone. But scoring has always been an issue for New York under Tortorella, and he lamented two near misses in particular.
He actually agreed with the officials that Rangers defenseman John Moore did not score late in the third period following a lengthy review, but that’s only because there was no video evidence.
“I think it’s a goal, but it’s the right call,” Tortorella said. “They called no goal on the ice, but you can’t see it on the replay. I don’t know what happened to the cameras that they always want that are above the net. Maybe they don’t have them here in Washington. I don’t know.”
Another moment that seemed to encapsulate the night was Hagelin’s failed short-handed breakaway early in the second period. With New York leading 1-0, Tortorella felt “it could have changed the complexion” of the game. Instead, Hagelin and the Rangers were left to ponder their shrinking margin for error in this series.
“It would have changed the game, obviously, on a breakaway when it’s 1-0,” said Hagelin, who scored New York’s lone goal in Game 1. “If that goes in, it’s a different game. No doubt about it. But it’s nothing I can think about right now. There’s a game tomorrow and new opportunities.”