The New York Rangers are back at MSG tonight to face the Ottawa Senators in their last game before the All Star Break. The Sens are a team that has some solid top-end skill but little depth to support it. They also lack a competent and consistent blue line, which contributes to their 122 goals allowed thus far this season. That skill does keep them somewhat respectable though, and always a threat to light the lamp (120 goals for), so taking this team lightly is always a mistake.
The Rangers will need to exploit any defenseman not named Karlsson or Methot, and any forward line that isn’t their top-six. The Sens aren’t a disaster –since they can certainly make you pay with those top-six and Karlsson– but they don’t have nearly adequate enough depth to match the Rangers. A win for the good guys moves them ahead of the Penguins for second in the division, and keeps them on pace to be within one point of the Isles (factoring in games in hand).
What have they done lately?
The Senators are a .500 hockey club at 18-18-8, and they have played .500 hockey over the past ten games at 4-4-2. Go figure. The Sens are actually right around 50% for their CF and have the league average 100 PDO. That said, their possession is trending upwards significantly (rolling 10-game average) while the Rangers are trending downward. This chart though is misleading, as the Rangers have had 2-3 bad possession games (two of those being shutout losses) and one “bad possession” game that was never close, having dominated the Pens. Remember folks, context of the numbers is more important than the numbers themselves.
As for their PDO, the Sens have always been around league average. They are league average in SH% and SV%, so there’s nothing skewing their numbers here. Anderson can steal games though.
Under Paul MacLean, the Sens forechecking strategy was a bit complex, using a hybrid forechecking/lock team. When they were trailing or tied, they’d send two or three guys after the puck in a 2-1-2 formation. When ahead though, they’d lock it up with a 1-1-3 forecheck, a variation of the 2-3 lock. They were an overload/zone defense team depending on puck location. On special teams, they ran a standard umbrella power play, and a hybrid PK (box, diamond, wedge+1) depending on puck location and opposition formation.
I haven’t watched them under new head coach Dave Cameron, but it’s a safe guess that he didn’t modify much mid-stream.
PK: Pageau, Condra, Cowen, Ceci, Legwand, Michalek, Methot, Gryba
Craig Anderson is getting the start for Ottawa.
PK: Stepan, Nash, Girardi, Staal, Moore, Fast, Hunwick, Boyle, Hagelin, Klein, McDonagh, MSL
Henrik Lundqvist is in net.
Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 7pm on MSG."Game 44: Beating a bad Ottawa team",