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Getting by without Hagelin

April 18, 2012, by

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you know that Carl Hagelin was suspended (questionably) for 3 games for elbowing Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson in the head during game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.  Due to this turn of events, the Rangers have lost a key cog in their top line, and one of their biggest speed/forechecking threats.

Chris Kreider was inserted into the lineup in Hagelin’s place for game 3 and acquitted himself well for a pro debut in the middle of a playoff series.  By the third period, however, Torts felt that Kreider wasn’t ready to be that guy for the top line and inserted Derek Stepan.  The question remains going into Game 4 on Wednesday, who is the right guy to take Hagelin’s spot on the top unit?

Let’s take a look at some possibilities…

  • Ryan Callahan– Captain Cally does just about everything for the Rangers, so why not install him on the top line?  He could be a huge boon to the forecheck and allow for Richards and Gabby a little more room to operate down low.  He also has an unfailing nose for the net, and if those two can generate shots on goal, Cally is a good bet to bang in some rebounds.
  • Brandon Dubinsky– Last season’s leading scorer, Dubi would seem to possess the skill set to complement the top line nicely.  He has a decent set of hands and can bring some jam to a finesse unit.  However, he has had trouble finding the back of the net this season, and has often looked lost between passing and shooting.  But, who knows, maybe playing with talent like Gaborik and Richards is just the thing to light the fire under Dubi’s offensive game.
  • Derek Stepan– Step was called upon by Torts to add a defensive dimension to the top line as the Rangers were defending the lead in game 3.  As Stepan has matured, he seems to be cut from that Callahan mold of intelligent player who can do everything well.  He kills penalties, plays the point (whether for better or worse) on the power play, and can play a physical forechecking game as well.  His versatility could make the top line a little more dynamic.
  • Artem Anisimov– Of all the guys discussed so far, Arty probably has the most raw skill and (maybe tied with Dubi) is the most enigmatic.  I actually think Arty has played fairly well in the series thus far, and has shown flashes of being able to hold his own in the skill department with his (possible) new line mates.  The question remains, which Anisimov will show up to any given game?
  • Brandon Prust– Prust is something of a wild card suggestion, but his work ethic and tireless puck pursuit could serve his more skilled line mates well.  If he could play fetch in the corners and create sustained puck possession and an effective cycle, he could fill a role similar to what Hags brought to the table (albeit with much less speed).
  • Chris Kreider– Just because Kreider couldn’t cut it in his NHL debut (relatively speaking, of course) doesn’t mean he isn’t a viable option going forward.  Once he gets his feet underneath him, he possesses the skill set to best approximate the role Carl plays.  He needs to go into the corners with a little more conviction and leverage his size a little better, but let’s not rule him out completely.

The roster holds quite a few intriguing possibilities to replace Hagelin for the next two games.  There is of course the Mitchell/Fedotenko possibility, but I’m not a huge fan of that option.  Personally, I would go with Ryan Callahan in the short term, and revaluate where everyone fits once Hagelin’s suspension is over.  Let me know what you guys think in the comments.  I’m honestly not sure what Torts will ultimately decide, but it’ll be an interesting story to follow until #62 returns.


  1. agentsmith says:

    i dont get it. torts seemed like step was put there for lock down purposes. but if boyle doesnt score kreider is still on that line. they were starting to pull it together.

    • Justin says:

      Kreider may have stayed on that line, and he did play pretty well, but that top unit needs to have more impact than they did in game 3.

  2. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I would put the Gas line back together, Kreider with Richards and Mitchell, Dubi, cally and Boyle and finally Feds, Prust with Rupp. Give that a go for game 4

  3. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I would put the Gas line back together, Kreider with Richards and Mitchell, Dubi, cally and Boyle and finally Feds, Prust with Rupp. Give that a go for game 4

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      When Hags comes back insert Hags for Mitchell, move Mitchell to 4th line and remove Feds

      • Dave says:

        Based on what the players say about Feds, I get the feeling that Mitchell will sit, not Feds.

  4. The Suit says:

    I wish we would see more than flashes from Anisimov. Though that toe drag move fools me every time.

  5. BOB MINTZ says:

    I hate to see Hags sidelined for what I feel may have been a questionable call, and more specifically an excessive term as far as what else has been going on in the playoffs, but in the long run, this may very well be a blessing in disguise. If not for the suspension, Chris Kreider may not have gotten any ice time in the foreseeable future. Here he is learning under fire for these three games (if Torts plays him), and when the suspension is over, now the Rangers have a one two punch hopefully. Could become very interesting.

    • pahIV says:

      I agree completely. For now, I think I would rotate between having Kreider and Stepan on the top line. Then once Hags is back, Hags-Gab-Richards,
      Pack Line, Feds-Boyle-Prust, and Kreider-Mitchell-Rupp. Should give good balance to the line up.

      • Walt says:

        The lines mentioned are good, and the Kreider kid will get time, without pressure!

        I’m still amazed that Neal gets one game, after going at two Flyers, and Hags gets three games, for what was an innocent play. Hags isn’t dirty, and Neal is, what give Shanny?

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    The real question is can hags and kreider play on the same line?

  7. Pasquale says:

    Kreider looked pretty dam good to me, it was his NHL/PLAYOFF/HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT first game.
    PLAYING next to the teams 3 elite stars…

    I’m out of breath just thinking of that all!

    Give him a chance to relax…

  8. PaulieF says:

    leave Boyle Prust Feds line and Dubi, Arty, and Cally lines alone.

    Rotate Krieder and Stepan in that slot and lets see who is looking good.

  9. Chris F says:

    I’m not sold on Kreider’s confidence to be on the top line, much less so top line minutes.

    So, I would reunite the GAS top line:


    I think by putting Kreider with Prust and Boyle several things happen. First it adds some raw talent and speed to this line, which could help balance things. Plus, it simultaneously takes the pressure off of Kreider, while giving him some hands-on-experience on how to use the body. Skating with Boyle and Prust, he’ll learn fast.

    • Blueshirt in Paris says:

      You do realize that the Boyle line is basically our checking line and takes the most defensive zone draws? And you want to put probably the worst defensive player on that line? What exactly is he going to learn besides “oh, I should not have done THAT!”

      This is really not a time for the team or Kreider to be teaching those types of lessons.

  10. Bobby Tux says:

    Ok all of that was fantasy hockey. Here is what will happen

    Krieder Gaborik Richards
    Cally AA Stepan
    Prust Boyle Feds
    Dubi Rupp Mitchell

    In the 3rd period with a lead Kreider will sit for either Mitchell or Dubi depending on who is playing better positional defense. My guess is Mitchell

    Once Hagelin is back the sitter Iis DIMBINSKY. The light will never go on for him. He is way too often a deer in headlights for long stretchs

    • Bobby Tuxxx says:

      I change my mind. Dubinsky should stay on a line with AA and Callahan for three reasons.

      1) They played well together last game
      2) My psychiatrist thinks my creepy infatuations with Dubinsky might be lessened if he plays better than my predictions
      3) Does anyone want to come over and play with my Dubinsky doll that I made? It smells just like him…

  11. Bob says:

    The best line this playoffs has been Boyle feds and Prust, why change them up?