Here’s my column on the fourth line from The Journal News and Lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
GREENBURGH – Lest you forget what a lack of depth looks like, the five Rangers on the ice for the series-winning goal for Boston last spring were Roman Hamrlik, Steve Eminger, Micheal Haley, Kris Newbury and Derek Dorsett, who was just back from a broken collarbone.
Lest you forget who scored that series clincher, it was Boston’s fourth-line center Gregory Campbell, whose line ran over the Rangers throughout the series. So had the Devils’ fourth line in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, when the Rangers’ fourth line most often consisted of Mike Rupp, Stu Bickel and John Mitchell, and really couldn’t get off John Tortorella’s bench in big spots.
From December on, the Rangers’ depth and their fourth line were enormous reasons for the run to the No. 2 seed in the division, and their success in Thursday’s 4-1 win over Philadelphia in Game 1 of the playoffs.
“You have to be able to spread the minutes out,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Friday. “If you want to play a good-tempo game … it seems to me, the teams that have had success on a pretty regular basis — I’m thinking about the Bruins right now — they’re able to throw four lines on the ice and roll it.”
Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle and Dorsett matched Philadelphia’s physical presence in Game 1, established zone time throughout, had some offensive chances, and contributed to holding Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek without a shot on goal. On Philly’s fourth line, Vincent Lecavalier looked as if he’d rather be elsewhere, and Zac Rinaldo, as usual, was just a sideshow.
“We want to make a difference,” said Boyle. “It’s the playoffs. We’re going to come and be physical, and so are they. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. It shouldn’t be newsworthy. It’s not like the first time we threw a hit all year was against Philly. We play hard. We have all year. Anybody who says otherwise is wrong.”
Boyle, who has even found offense in his game during the first round the previous two springs, was asked if he’s a better player in the postseason.
“Yep,” said the free agent-to-be. “I think the last part of the season’s been pretty good. I don’t know what it is. … It’s fun.
“As a line, nothing really changes. It’s almost like Game 83. We know what’s at stake. There’s more at stake, obviously, but we try to go at it as business as usual.”
Dorsett expects more of the same battles from both teams in Game 2 Sunday and beyond.
“We talked about it,” he said. “We don’t want to back away from it. We’re not going to be intimidated by it. We’re all big boys, strong guys, and we can go at them and finish their checks and counter their hits. It’ll be a fun series to be a part of.”
Photo by USA Today.
MASON A MAYBE FOR GAME 2
GREENBURGH – Philadelphia’s No. 1 goalie, Steve Mason, joined the team and practiced at Chelsea Piers in New York City Friday after remaining home and missing Game 1 with what is believed to be a concussion.
Asked if he can play in Game 2 Sunday, Mason said, “I’ll try my best.”
Backup Ray Emery lost Game 1, 4-1 on Thursday. Mason would not admit that he had suffered a concussion on the final weekend of the season, but did say he’d had two prior concussions.
He said he hadn’t been feeling well “a couple of days ago” and that he intends to practice Saturday with the team. Flyers coach Craig Berube indicated that he will wait and see before making a decision on a Game 2 starter.
Mason was 0-4, 4.27, .878 in his only playoff appearance, in 2009 with Columbus.