Good, bad, or indifferent, the fact remains: Carl Hagelin is suspended for Games 3, 4, and 5 of the New York Rangers’ first round series with the Ottawa Senators. Another fact that also remains is that the Rangers, after winning the Atlantic Division and finishing with the most points in the Eastern Conference, have lost home-ice advantage.
Undoubtedly, the Rangers will look to focus on the latter as they go to Ottawa for Game 3 tonight and Game 4 on Wednesday. As the Rangers look to regain home ice advantage, and control of the momentum of the series, they can use other teams around the league as an example for how not to handle adversity in a playoff series. The teams that have lacked discipline, and have gone out of their way to try to avenge something have been the teams that have put themselves in trouble in their series.
As head coach John Tortorella has stated numerous times, the challenge is to keep the momentum for as long as possible, and when momentum is lost, to get it back as quickly as possible. It is that mentality that has made the Rangers successful throughout the course of the season, and it is the approach that is needed in order to deal with losing a player like Hagelin for the next three games. And, just like Hagelin did when he got his chance earlier in the season, it gives another player the opportunity to step in and contribute to the team’s success (most likely Chris Kreider).
What the Rangers can’t afford to do is dwell on what happened both on and off the ice over the last two days. At practice on Sunday, the Rangers wouldn’t comment on the incidents that occurred the previous night, and it was the right move. The Rangers can’t change the decisions made by Brendan Shanahan regarding Hagelin’s suspension as well as the one-game suspension handed out to the Senators’ Matt Carkner. The only thing they can impact now is how the rest of this series, and ultimately their season turns out.