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Playoffs 2013Rangers hope Dan Girardi better on home ice

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | 02:08 PM

Categories: BOS vs NYR, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Playoffs 2013

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Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi was on the ice for all five Bruins goals in Game 2. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi was on the ice for all five Bruins goals in Game 2. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Rangers coach John Tortorella expects stalwart defenceman Dan Girardi is "going to play his best game" after Girardi was on the ice for all five Bruins goals in Game 2.
By Jay Greenberg, Special to CBC Sports

NEW YORK -- John Tortorella says Brad Marchand has been the Bruins best player through two games, which begs the question: Now that the Rangers coach apparently has decided to reunite Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, against whom will that pair play in Game 3 on Tuesday night?

Milan Lucic, Dave Krejci and Nathan Horton, the acknowledged top Boston unit? Or Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Jaromir Jagr?

The best guess is that McDonagh and Girardi will be matched religiously against the Krecji line and spotted on defensive-zone matchups against the Bergeron unit. But almost as good a question remains the forward matchups.

"We'd like to try to keep them in their end zone and make them defend," said Tortorella about the Bergeron line.

So who are the Rangers' best forecheckers? Normally, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin, but if Rick Nash continues to have the puck as much as he did in Game 2, might the Rangers want he, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello backing the Marchand unit off?

After watching Tortorella match Callahan as much as possible against Alex Ovechkin last round, our guess is the Stepan line versus Marchand's unit. One would think Tortorella would have little interest in matching the 5-foot-7 Zuccarello against the 6-foot-4 Lucic.

Clean slate

Tortorella on Girardi, who was on for all five goals against on Sunday: "I didn't even talk to him," said the coach. "If that's a Johnny Moore, certainly we will try to help him along the way, maybe show him some tape, whatever it may be.

"Danny is one of the better defensemen in the NHL that had a tough night. He knows it. He doesn't need to hear it from any coach at all what needs to be done. He's going to play his best game."

Tortorella on the play of Brad Richards, now a $12-million-a-year fourth line player: "I'm not going to dissect it. He has made plays though. You can pile on this guy all you want but he has made some plays along the way. I'll go that far."

Richards has one point (a goal) in nine games and, still getting time on a 2-for-36 power play, is averaging 15:26 of ice time.

The other goalie

Going into Game 3, Tuukka Rask has given up four goals to Henrik Lundqvist's eight, after Lundqvist gave up only 12 in seven games during the Washington series.

"We've been able to score some goals on a very good goaltender, but at the same time give our goaltender credit," said Claude Julien. "The second period of our last game was probably a good example where we had some flaws in our game, but he was there to stop those pucks."

Indeed, a huge save came on McDonagh, 20 feet up the slot, off a pass by Callahan, seconds after Johnny Boyckuk's four-on-four goal had put Boston ahead in the second period. A few minutes later Rask got his right pad out on Carl Hagelin.


Dennis Seidenberg joined the Bruins optional skate, but the fact Zdeno Chara's usual partner stayed out afterwards was an indication that Seidenberg was not going to play in Game 3.

"I'll be surprised as you are," said Julien.

Lessons learned

Marchand says the Bruins are well aware that the Rangers trailed Washington 2-0 last round and that his team's own mortality became apparent to it after needing a miracle Game 7 rally to beat Toronto in a series it had once led 3-1.

"We realize we let Toronto back in it," he said. "We want to finish the job."

Home numbers

The Rangers were 3-0 at Madison Square Garden in the playoffs going into Game 3, part of the trend that has home teams 40-18 so far in the post-season. In the second round, home teams are 10-1. In last year's playoffs, home teams were 39-86 for a .453 win percentage, according to the NHL.

Lines and defence pairings



Stralman-Del Zotto

Goalie: Lundqvist




Goalie: Rask

Follow Jay Greenberg on Twitter @ScribeJG.

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