The New York Rangers have a chance to head home with a stranglehold on their first-round playoff series with the Ottawa Senators, but they insist they aren’t getting ahead of themselves.
“We aren’t even looking at the numbers,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said following an afternoon practice at Scotiabank Place Tuesday afternoon. “We’re just trying to prepare to play another game. What happens, happens. We just want to continue trying to improve our game.”
Tortorella knows the stakes are high for Game 4, however. The Rangers are currently up 2-1, with a chance to push Ottawa to the brink with a road victory Wednesday night.
And it isn’t just all-stars doing the heavy lifting.
Captain Ryan Callahan gave much of the credit to 6-foot-7 centre Brian Boyle, who leads the series with three goals while contributing effective physical play.
“(Boyle) has played great,” said Callahan. “Not only is he winning big face-offs, killing penalties and blocking shots, he’s putting the puck in the net too, which obviously helps. He’s been great for us.”
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has obviously done his share as well. He’s sporting a .952 save percentage through three games and has outplayed Ottawa counterpart Craig Anderson.
“(Lundqvist) has played that way all year,” said Callahan. “He’s been great for us … it’s one of the main reasons why we have had such a good year. He’s the backbone of this team. For us to have success in the playoffs, he’s going to have to be there for us.”
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Rangers blue-chip prospect Chris Kreider made both his NHL playoff and Rangers debut Monday night and impressed his coach and teammates with the way he handled the pressure.
Kreider, a 2009 first-round draft pick, decided to forego his senior season at Boston College and signed with the Rangers just before the start of the playoffs.
“It’s a hard situation,” said Tortorella. “Our team just lost a playoff game going into an away building, playing on a top line, coming out of college after winning a championship. For me, as I look into the future for this guy…forget about what he did on the ice, how he handled himself prior is just a really good thing. I have a really good thought as far as how this kid is going to progress into becoming a pro.”
Even though the Rangers are up in the series, they know their power play needs to be better to have continued success.
Heading into Tuesday’s slate of games, it ranked 13th out of 16 playoff teams (with a 9.1 per cent success rate).
“Special teams are huge in the playoffs,” Callahan said. “It’s not secret we need to get our power play going and score some goals. I think our penalty kill has stood tall and has come up big against a really good power play.”