Hours after holding Erik Karlsson out of the third period of last night’s Game 4 loss to the Rangers, Sens head coach Guy Boucher confirmed Karlsson would play in Saturday’s pivotal Game 5.
Karlsson, who suffered an apparent leg injury on Thursday, skated just 14:52 before being shut down — well off the 28:45 he averaged through Ottawa’s first nine playoff games.
Yes, it was Boucher who made the call to sit Karlsson down for the final frame.
But the Rangers can take credit for forcing the coach’s hand.
New York was incredibly physical with the talented rearguard last night, laying the body whenever possible and trying to engage him physically during post-whistle scrums. J.T. Miller was at the forefront of these battles, though Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello got in there as well.
It was the execution of Alain Vigneault’s gameplan.
The veteran bench boss clearly saw the need for his team to ratchet up the physicality. That’s why Tanner Glass drew into the lineup for Game 4, and that’s why Glass started on a line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash.
To hear Glass explain it, that was a snippet of A.V.’s larger message.
“I think the message is pretty clear. He wants me to be physical,” Glass said, per the Hartford Courant. “A big thing in Game 3 was our urgency and we wanted to come out and match that.”
As for putting bodies on Karlsson, it seems the Rangers are employing the wear-him-down philosophy. It’s made easier by the fact that there are plenty of opportunities to hit the Swedish rearguard, given he plays nearly half the game.
“Playoffs is a war of attrition,” Glass explained. “Every bump counts. It’s like making deposits in the bank. You make enough one day, you’re going to be happy what’s in there.”