Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hagelin's Wheels Keep Top Line Rolling

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hagelin's Wheels Keep Top Line Rolling

Article excerpt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - He clearly carries third billing on the Rangers' top line behind veteran All-Stars Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.

But rookie left wing Carl Hagelin does not lack for confidence, nor was he overcome by nerves, as he made his NHL playoff debut in the Rangers' 4-2 win over the Senators in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal Thursday. Game 2 is tonight at Madison Square Garden.

"I was more excited," said Hagelin, who had an assist and three shots in 13:51. "Hearing the crowd during the national anthem really pumped me up."

Hagelin and the Rangers' top line will again be relied on as the top-seeded Rangers try to carry over the momentum of their Game 1 victory so they can bring a 2-0 series lead into Monday's Game 3 in Ottawa.

"You know they're going to be better," defenseman Marc Staal said of the eighth-seeded Senators. "You just have to keep raising your level of play because they're going to try to bounce back and play harder."

Hagelin, a 23-year-old Swede who was a college star at Michigan, spent some time in Hartford (AHL) before making his NHL debut on Nov. 25. The left wing compiled 14 goals and 24 assists in 64 regular-season games and made crucial plays on both of his linemates' goals in Game 1.

First, he pressured the puck before Gaborik's unassisted goal to make it 2-0 at 16:24 of the second period. Then he stole the puck from Nick Foligno behind the Senators' crease and found Richards open for a 4-0 lead at 2:15 of the third period.

Up in the Garden stands, prized prospect Chris Kreider, only signed out of Boston College on Monday, took close notice. His assignment for the game was to study Hagelin's puck pursuit.

"He made defensemen uncomfortable," Kreider said. "He has an unbelievable first step. He's the best skater in the league."

"I think he's starting to really understand the legs are his biggest asset," rugged left wing Mike Rupp said. "He creates havoc just getting there."

And the rookie's poise certainly impressed Rupp and Richards. …

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