Archive for Playoffs
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→
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.
The Rangers and Senators officially kick off their series on Thursday night in Ottawa. With four days off between games, the Rangers are going to be able to rest and regroup after a hard-fought Montreal series. Ottawa isn’t as big, but they are quicker and more skilled. Here are three keys for the Blueshirts to be successful and advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
1. Consistent speed
The Rangers finally got their collective acts together in the final three games against Montreal, all wins. They used their speed to wear down the Habs, who were unable to keep up late in games. The Senators are a faster team, but still have a weak blue line and significantly weaker goaltending (not many can match Carey Price).
The schedule for the series with the Senators has been released. The Rangers are the lower seeded team again, so the series will start in Ottawa.
Game 1: Thursday, April 27th 7 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, April 29th 3 p.m.
Game 3: Tuesday, May 2nd 7 p.m.
Game 4: Thursday, May 4th 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Saturday, May 6th TBD
Game 6: Tuesday, May 9th TBD
Game 7: Thursday, May 11th TBD
All games going forward are going to be on some kind of NBC network. The Rangers are at home for Games 3, 4, and 6.
The second round matchup is now set, as the Rangers will take on the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division Final. The Sens closed out the Bruins in overtime last night, setting the stage for Game One in Ottawa this week. The Senators are going to pose a problem for the Rangers, as they have some pretty solid team speed and skill.
The last time these two teams faced off in the playoffs was in 2012, with the Rangers winning in seven games. Both teams are completely different now, so there isn’t much to go on from that series. While the Senators certainly do not have the forward depth to match the Blueshirts, they have a good amount of speed and skill throughout the lineup. Erik Karlsson looms large as well. They play very well and are a disciplined team under Guy Boucher.
We all know what happened the other night in Montreal, and we all know what we hope happens tonight at the Garden – I figured instead of a post stretching one thought out for too long I’d just hit you guys with some scattered thoughts before tomorrow’s game.
- The Rangers really need to come out and play a full 60 minutes tomorrow night. They turned it on in the latter portions of Game 5, but for a while there Hank had to bail them out. Montreal is going to be playing desperate hockey, and the Rangers are going to need to counter that with a complete effort, because even taking their foot off the gas slightly will give Montreal all the opportunity they need to set up and attempt to alter the course of the game.
The Rangers played their best game of the 2017 calendar year on Tuesday night, evening the series in the process. But now the series turns back to Montreal for a critical Game Five for both clubs. The Rangers are going to try to play the same way they did in Game Four. The Canadiens are probably going to adjust to prevent just that. Naturally, I have some thoughts.
1. Game Five is going to come down to coaching. Claude Julien is going to adjust. He’s going to ensure the Rangers don’t have as much time in the offensive zone. My guess is he’s going to have his defensemen attend to stand up at the blue line, stopping the zone entry and forcing a soft dump to Carey Price to handle. Alain Vigneault’s ability to adjust to Julien’s adjustments will have a huge impact. The most important thing for the Rangers is to continue to gain the zone with speed through the neutral zone.
After a Game 3 that was embarrassing at every level, the Rangers pulled a complete 180 and played the best game we’ve seen them play in quite some time in Game 4. The score showed a close 2-1 game, but the Rangers controlled play in the final two periods. From an execution standpoint, they did everything right.
Aside from everything mentioned in the goal breakdown, the Rangers had a strong showing on the stat sheet too. Only three players sat below a 50% CF% last night: Jimmy Vesey, Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh. That’s not to say that trio had bad games, it’s more that the whole team was able to keep the puck in the Montreal zone.