UPDATE: Per Rangers twitter....same lineup for Game #5 as Kevin Klein is ruled out for tonight,
As strong as the Rangers look so far with their 3-1 lead in this 1st round series against the rival Penguins, the Rangers are lucky enough to getting stronger with the addition of defenseman Kevin Klein. K.K. is expected to make his playoff debut this season in Game #5 at MSG with a chance to eliminate Crosby, Malkin and the Penguins. The Rangers have played their brand of hockey so far in the playoffs that earned them the Presidents Trophy as regular season NHL champs.
The Rangers have had many injuries during the regular season to their key players which at the time seemed like it could hurt them in their quest for the playoffs. What those injuries actually showed was the Rangers organizational depth that most NHL pundits said the Rangers lacked. It also has some of the most important players alittle less beaten up from the long NHL season wear and tear on the body. Instead of the game in and game out banging and traveling that wears a player down, while out on injury the players had the ability to heal, rest, and work on getting stronger. This should show in the playoffs over the next few series as the Rangers go on.
Who comes out when Klein enters the lineup, and who is he paired with? In this series it would be smart to give Dan Boyle the night off and let Klein team with Matt Hunwick. Keith Yandle and Marc Staal will be a great 2nd shutdown tandem to match against Crosby or Malkins line along with Ryan McDonagh and Dan Giradi. A third pairing of K.K. and Hunwich just shows how strong the Rangers are on the defense. That is the most balanced offense to defense pairings in the NHL by far. A healthy and strong Dan Boyle in for Hunwick would make the Rangers even better although it seems that he is having issues with either being worn down or maybe even injured. Add All-World Goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Cameron Talbot between the pipes and all you need to do is have the forwards back-check and score a few goals and all Rangers dreams can be achieved.
A surprise so far in this 1st round of the playoffs is the effectiveness of the Rangers line of Dominic Moore/ Tanner Glass/ Jesper Fast. This line has done a great job of playing against the Crosby and Malkin lines. The top 3 lines have been doing what they have done all season in putting enough pucks behind the other teams goalies to get the win. In the playoffs it only gets harder to score as the ice seems to get smaller. If Rick Nash (who is averaging a point a game), Mats Zuccarello and Martin St. Louis start a goal scoring streak, along with the Rangers Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, and Derek Stepan and others keep up the speed and offensive chances, the Rangers would almost be impossible to beat. But in the NHL, nothing ever works out as expected. So it will have to be hard work and staying with the Rangers system that overall will lead them to victory.
The Rangers are hoping to close out the Pens tonight at MSG and give the fans their playoff monies worth. As everyone that has ever attended a Rangers playoff game knows, the Garden will be Rockin' tonight! Close out NHL poster boy Crosby and LET'S GO RANGERS!