On paper the news coming out of Monday's morning skates at Scotiabank Place seemed to heavily favor the Ottawa Senators, who already have a 3-2 series lead and are looking to wrap up their first-round playoff series over the Rangers tonight in Game 6.
The Senators confirmed that team captain Daniel Alfredsson---who has 89 points in 109 career post-season games---will play tonight, returning from a three-game absence after suffering a concussion in Game 2 at The Garden. His return will provide a tremendous emotional boost to a team that will already be playing in front of a raucous home crowd this evening, while also upping the Sens skill level---especially for their struggling power play.
"It doesn't change anything for us (that Alfredsson is playing)," Henrik Lundqvist said after the Rangers' morning skate. "We have to shut everything out and not overthink this. We just have to get it done."
In addition Ottawa coach Paul MacLean left the door open for skilled 21 year-old Jakob Silfverberg to make his NHL debut tonight, upping the Sens skill level that much more. Silfverberg just helped Brynas win the Swedish Elite League championship a few days ago, after being named as the SEL Most Valuable Player this past season.
"He was just the Swedish Elite League MVP, and his team just won the championship and he was their best player, I like that," MacLean said of Silfverberg. "I haven't formally decided yet (if he will play)."
Meanwhile the Rangers will play without their top goal scorer from this series, Brian Boyle. Rangers head coach John Tortorella simply said this morning about Boyle, "he's not here...no update." Boyle, who has scored three goals in the series, was injured on an unpenalized hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil in the third period Saturday night.
Carl Hagelin will return to the Blueshirts lineup following his three-game suspension for elbowing Alfredsson. Though Tortorella did not discuss his lineup or line combinations, it is likely Hagelin will be reunited with Marian Gaborik (one goal in series) and Brad Richards (also one goal) on the Rangers' top line.
"He brings so much speed to the game, just on the forecheck, creating turnovers, and so much energy," Ryan Callahan said of Hagelin. "So to have him back, I think, will be big for us."
It appears that Hagelin's return to the lineup, and Boyle's absence, will be the only changes for a Rangers team that faces a must win this evening in Game 6 at Scotiabank Place.
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