W2W4: Rangers vs. Senators

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
3:36
PM ET
At a glance: The Rangers take a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 Wednesday at Scotiabank Place with the Senators looking to even things up before the best-of-seven set heads back to New York. The first-place Rangers have the edge over the eighth-seeded Senators but the two teams have played pretty evenly through the first three games of the series. Can Ottawa rally around the absence of their captain? Or will the Rangers pull one game closer to knocking off the Senators and advancing to Round 2?

Alfredsson unlikely: It appears the Senators will be without their captain Daniel Alfredsson for the second straight game. The 39-year-old Swede sustained a concussion after Carl Hagelin's suspension-worthy elbow hit during Game 1 on Saturday and suffered a setback that held him out of Game 3 on Monday. Senators coach Paul MacLean said there was “no change” in Alfredsson’s status when asked about his availability Wednesday morning.

Folk hero: With a goal in the first three games of the series -- including the game-winner in New York’s 1-0 win Monday – Brian Boyle has become the player to watch. The 6-7 center was booed and taunted in his first Ottawa appearance since roughing up Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson in Game 1. He seemed to relish the “villain” role, however, tallying the game’s lone marker for his eighth goal in the last 12 games.

Top-line troubles: Without Alfredsson, the pressure for the Senators' top line to produce can only escalate. So far, they have failed to make much of an impact. Both Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, who combined for 69 goals during the regular season, have been limited to one goal apiece during the series.

Stingy swede: A tight series between the two clubs has highlighted the Rangers’ clear advantage: goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The 30-year-old Swede has surrendered only five goals on 103 shots and blanked Ottawa on all 39 attempts Monday to earn his ninth shutout of the season. It was the 13th time in his career that he had posted 20 saves or more in a playoff game.

Power-play problems: The Senators’ threatening power-play has failed to inflict any damage in the first trio of games. Granted, the unit missed Alfredsson in Game 3, but the Sens have been held to only one man-up goal in 10 attempts.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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