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Rangers Shoot for Seventh Heaven Once Again

Game Seven, take two

By Josh Alper
|  Saturday, May 12, 2012  |  Updated 10:30 AM EDT
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There comes a time in a playoff series where there really isn't anything left to say.

Game Seven is that time. You can expend all the energy in the world talking about the Rangers and Capitals ahead of their Saturday night spectacle and it won't amount to anything more than filler.

We know what both of these teams are at this point in time. We know that the games are going to be filled with blocked shots, defensive shells and goaltenders who can take care of anything that trickles through.

We know that the Rangers have to make sure Alexander Ovechkin doesn't beat them the way he did on Wednesday night and we know that the Capitals defensemen remain awfully skittish when the Rangers forecheck shows its teeth. We know that the Rangers power play is more problematic than you'd like and we know that the Caps appear to be incapable of putting teams away by more than a one-goal margin.

And we know that the Rangers have to find a way to generate more offense when the game is at even strength. There's not much that either team can do to change any of the other realities of life in this series, but the Rangers can try to do something about the final one.

At practice on Friday, the Rangers moved Chris Kreider, now a salty veteran of 11 NHL games, back to a line with Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan. The All-American line should give the Rangers more balance behind Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov while also injecting a little bit more speed than the team could manage with Kreider playing limited minutes on the fourth line.

You get the feeling that this is desperation in the mind of John Tortorella, even if it seems eminently sensible to just about every one else. Without this move, though, the Rangers were dooming themselves to play the same kind of charmless slog that we've seen six times already.

That means you're at risk of being on the wrong side of bounces, something that has decided most of those six games. With Kreider, the Rangers can take a shot at creating some bounces of their own even if playing someone so callow also opens up more risk than Tortorella might prefer.

The reward is huge, though, so the risk is justified.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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