The Rangers laid an egg last night in Ottawa, coming out slow and looking sloppy all night in a 2-1 loss. Henrik Lundqvist did the best he could to keep the Rangers in it, but penalties and luck kept him from doing so. Luckily it was only Game 1, and the goal for the Blueshirts is to come away with a split in Ottawa. They have a chance to salvage that on Saturday, but they can’t come out the way they did last night. As usual, I have some thoughts.
1. Last night’s game was oddly reminiscent of Game 3 against Montreal. It wasn’t as bad as that game, it wasn’t even close honestly, but the issues gave me bad flashbacks. There was no consistent forecheck. There was no consistent speed through the neutral zone. There was no sustained offensive pressure. Craig Anderson barely had to move, and most of his saves were pretty simple shots. It wasn’t Rangers hockey, and Guy Boucher made Alain Vigneault’s Rangers play right into their 1-1-3 trap (remember, it’s a 1-1-3, not a 1-3-1). The Rangers need to take a long look at themselves in the mirror and remember what they did in Games 4-6 against Montreal. That’s how they will win.
Per Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers have denied a request by the Buffalo Sabres to interview Assistant GM Chris Drury for their General Manager position. Drury was promoted by the Rangers to the Assistant General Manager position before this season. Prior to this position, Drury was serving as Director of Player Development. He was instrumental in recruiting Jimmy Vesey.
It’s not really a surprise to see the Rangers decline permission to the Sabres. He was named Director of Player Development in September of 2015, and a year later was promoted to the Assistant GM role. It may not seem like a huge jump, but a promotion that quickly indicates he is an important piece of the front office. Plus, the Rangers are in the middle of a playoff run. Not sure if that last bit means anything significant, though.
The Rangers looked almost as bad last night as they did in Game 3 against Montreal, falling to the Senators 2-1 in a game that was not as close as the score suggests. The Rangers were outplayed all night by Ottawa, and this would have been a blowout if not for Henrik Lundqvist. Hank did everything he could to keep the Rangers in it, including stopping 21 shots in the first period alone. But it wasn’t enough.
Craig Anderson wasn’t tested much in this game, as the Rangers couldn’t muster any sustained offense. There were a few good chances, but for the most part Anderson didn’t have to move to make his saves. Very few shots were taken with traffic in front. There was no forecheck. There was no speed through the neutral zone. There was nothing that resembled Rangers hockey. It was a poor effort by all not named Lundqvist.
On to the goals:
After four days off, the Rangers will resume their playoff run tonight in Ottawa, taking on a Senators team that ousted the Bruins in a very close six game series. The Senators are a quicker and more skilled team than the Habs, so they will present a different challenge for the Rangers. Craig Anderson is a bit of a wild card too, as his hot streaks can make him unbeatable.
For the Rangers to be successful, they will need to ensure they stick to their game. They played their game in the final three wins against Montreal, and their collective team speed wore down the Habs. Ottawa is certainly quicker, but their defensive depth can be exploited by fast teams. Getting in on the forecheck, sustaining pressure, and making Anderson move are going to be critical aspects of this series.
Tonight the Rangers and the Senators drop the puck in Game One of the Atlantic Division Final. The Rangers, despite finishing with the better record, do not have home ice advantage. That might actually suit them well, as their record away from MSG is far better than at home. They took two of three in Montreal in the first round, so their road success has translated to the playoffs so far. But Ottawa is not Montreal, and I have some thoughts.
1. Ottawa is not Montreal. This is both good and bad. This is good because the Sens do not have Carey Price. However the Sens are a much quicker and more skilled club. The Rangers were able to keep up with Montreal because the Blueshirts’ defensemen could skate with the relatively slow Habs forwards. The Senators are much quicker up front, so the blue liners are going to have to be on their ‘A’ game. A lot of folks are thinking this will be a quick series, but I think every game will be a toss up. Henrik Lundqvist is going to be the determining factor in this series.
The Rangers are moving on to Phase 2 of their “skip the Metropolitan and tear through the Atlantic” master plan to win the Stanley Cup. Their next opponent is the Ottawa Senators. After dispatching an injury-riddled Bruins’ club in six games, the Sens aim to punch a ticket to the Conference Finals.
A big part of Ottawa’s success in the first round was the solid play of goaltender Craig Anderson. He has become something of a cult hero in the Canadian capital due to his wife Nicholle’s courageous battle with a rare form of cancer (nasopharyngeal carcinoma). Her treatments are progressing well from all accounts, and on a personal level, the Anderson family is easy to root for and we should all hope that everything ends well in a difficult circumstance. Read More→
We’ve made it to Round Two of the playoffs, Rangers unscathed and surprisingly a lot of statistically advanced teams going home. The playoffs, as we know, are a whole different animal, and we’re already deeper here in the New York Metro area (or wherever it is you cheer from!) than we were last time. May hockey is a wonderful, heart attack inducing, fun thing to experience.
Of course, here at BSB this means a fresh crop of predictions. Let’s see how the BSB staff have done through one round:
The second round of predictions includes Justin, so let’s all go blank slate and see how we can fare from here on out. As always, please share your predictions for the four upcoming series in the comments.
Erik Karlsson is so good that you could make a case that he alone gives Ottawa the edge on defense over the Blueshirts.
The 26-year-old D-man is in the midst of his greatest season – which we seem to say every year. In addition to being the catalyst for the Senators’ offense, Karlsson has really rounded out his defensive play and is now a shutdown player in his own end, too.
Karlsson is averaging over 30 minutes a game so far during the playoffs and shows no signs of being hampered by two hairline fractures in his left foot. Keeping him in check may be the key to the series.
It’s been well-documented at this point that the Rangers ousted the Canadiens in the first round by prioritizing skill throughout their lineup at forward. Montreal was a well-coached team with outstanding goaltending, but they were simply unable to match New York’s depth.
Though they employ a structured, defensive style of hockey, the Ottawa Senators pose a very different challenge for the Rangers to deal with in the second round of the playoffs. Head coach Guy Boucher is well-known for not just his neutral zone trap, but also juggling his lines.
On this week’s episode of the Blue Seat Blogs-Cast we discuss how the Rangers adjusted in the latter half of their first round series against the Canadiens, and preview the upcoming second round matchup between the Rangers and the Ottawa Senators. As always you can find us right here, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes.