Rangers vs. Senators: Defense preview

Erik Karlsson led the league in scoring by a defensemen three straight seasons from 2013-2016

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.

Beyond Karlsson, the Senators are an unimpressive group. Dion Phaneuf, a.k.a The Guy That Ended Mike Sauer’s Career, remains a freak physical specimen and has gone from being so overrated that he’s underrated once again. He scored the OT winner in Game 2 against the Bruins and will make life difficult for the Blueshirts all series.

Marc Methot is quite popular with Becky and is a solid stay-at-home blueliner, but he might be exposed by the Rangers’ speed. 23-year-old Cody Ceci rounds out the top four. He was billed as an offensive defenseman in his draft year, but has yet to break out – although he was second behind Karlsson in ice time this season.

Like the Blueshirts, Ottawa has shuffled players in and out of its lineup on the bottom pairing. Chris Wideman, Ben Harpur, Fredrik Claesson and Mark Borowiecki all saw time in Round One. But due to Karlsson’s enormous workload and the 25 minutes a night Phaneuf and Ceci are eating, these guys are complimentary players and will be used lightly and only in the right matchups by Guy Boucher. Alain Vigneault will certainly try to abuse Ottawa’s bottom pairing when he gets the final change in New York.

As Dave described in his systems preview, Ottawa has deployed a 1-1-3 forecheck under Guy Boucher to great success. Though the Senators aren’t deep along the blueline, they play outstanding team defense and make it very difficult to even gain clean zone entries. New York struggled mightily to break through the neutral zone in the first matchup between these teams this season.

On the Rangers’ side, the defense is playing some of its best hockey of the season. Ryan McDonagh has been out of his mind, Brendan Smith has been a rock, Brady Skjei is taking the next step and Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have both been thriving in the postseason. Despite Karlsson’s greatness, the advantage here actually belongs to New York.

"Rangers vs. Senators: Defense preview", 4 out of 5 based on 16 ratings.

45 thoughts on “Rangers vs. Senators: Defense preview

  • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:22 am

    we just saw an all-world goaltender in Carey Price now we are going to see perhaps the best in Erik Karlson with the sens he had a great 1st round against Boston despite playing with a bad foot but what ever the blueshirts do to him they have other d-men in Phaneuf, Ceci and Methot to pick up the slack

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Ottawa’s Anderson isn’t shabby either, I don’t think its gonna be a gimme in net against the boys!

  • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Kevin, the only thing missing from your write up is the 6th name for the Rangers defensive group. Sadly this 6th spot caused pain more then a few times last series… I hope that turns around for this next set of games.


  • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:39 am

    As I mentioned in the previous thread, the Habs out chanced the Rangers 63-37 in round 1. So if even 5% more of the Habs chances go in then the Rangers lose the series.

    It cannot be emphasized enough that this year, and it’s like groundhog day for the past 12 years, the King masks the team’s defensive flaws. With all his brilliance in that series Games 1,4,5, and 6 could have gone either way. Price has an under 2 GAA and .925 save percentage and loses.

    There are 3 guys worth a dam on the Rangers’ D: McD (brilliant), Skjei (very good), and Smith (tremendous and “rock” fits him perfectly). While G has been throwing great hits he also still coughs up the puck, having 8 giveaways (the ones that actually made the stat sheet) in one game. And let’s not get started on the unnecessary icings that occur because the Rangers just fling the puck out of the D zone aimlessly.

    The goalie has once again made up for his teammates defensive flaws which is why regardless of what happens this season the D corps will get a huge makeover in the offseason. The signing of the Russian defenseman was done with the intention that he’s going to play with the big club at some point next season, maybe by December after a few months in Hartford.

    That being said, I do agree that the Rangers have the edge on the back end as after Karlsson, who is all-world and probably the best defenseman in the world right now, there really isn’t much. Kreider should have a field day but then again I said that he should be effective against the Habs too.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:54 am


      Agree with almost everything except that the defense of the Sens is better than what we saw against the Hab-nots, and they tend to join in on the offense more so as well. This is going to be tougher than you may think.

      Please, someone wake up that sleeping giant known as Kreider, about an hour before the game, we do indeed need his output, and results. No more coasting, and or sleeping on the job, bust your hump Chris, we need goals from you already !!!!!!!!!!!

      As a side note, Anderson is so underrated, he is scary good, and plays his heart out against the Blue shirts………..

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:57 am

        I can add Stepan to the list that needs “Wake Up Calls”?

        • Apr 26, 2017 at 8:10 am

          Now that is a given my man!!!!!!!!

          • Apr 26, 2017 at 11:06 am

            I think stepan is already playing his game. What you see is what you get there. We know Kreider for example has another gear if he can find it. Don’t think the same is true of stepan. Solid steady gamer but isn’t going to take over the ice suddenly.

            • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:07 pm

              I do think Stepan can do more and will do more. But I largely agree with your premise. He is what he is.

              Kreider/Miller/Hayes are all way more talented, and at this point should be the engines that power the team (along with Nash). While they’ve had good seasons, it’s been over two months since any of them have had anything close to a dominating “beast-like” game. They’ve been mostly ordinary. And that is not going to cut it if we hope to advance.

              That’s why I’m so tough on those three. They are supposed to be the stars. Not Stepan. Time to start playing like the supposed “Untouchables” they are supposed to be.

              • Apr 26, 2017 at 5:07 pm


                Correct me if I’m misreading this, are you admitting Step is marginal at best?????? If so, we are in agreement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                A few extra exclamation points for Chris, he was worried about me…………..

              • Apr 26, 2017 at 6:36 pm

                Well, I never said he was marginal. He’s a good solid center. His goals were down from the past but his point total is good. He often has to deal with the the opposition’s best players. To me, he is being paid appropriately for his years in the league and his production. But he’s not an elite player. Never thought he was.

                Somewhere along the way, the Rangers need a player(s) capable of taking over games. That’s not Stepan. That MIGHT be Kreider, Miller or Hayes. But talk is cheap. They need to start doing it if we are going to advance.

              • Apr 26, 2017 at 8:04 pm


                I’d like a job working for you, if you think Step is being paid appropriately?????

                He is a dime a dozen, and is nothing but a second, or even third line player who is way overrated by many on this site!!!!!!!!

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 9:04 am

        I agree Walt that the Sens D is better than the Habs D, I just think that the Rangers’ D is better overall. That’s not saying a lot though. I think the Rangers can use their speed to burn the Sens D and they should, but I also thought that in the Habs series too.

        Anderson is good but I notice that he gives up the rebounds that goalies like Lundqvist and Price do not.

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        Anderson IS a very underrated goalie that people overlook. Ottawa’s strength is their system, which is meant to frustrate the opposition & limit scoring chances. My son-in-law, a knowledgeable Sens fan loves Boucher & thinks he has made all the difference in Ottawa this year.

        • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:41 pm

          We are counting on you Paul to give us the perspective from Ontario!

          Agree about Anderson. He has given us fits over the years and the Sens system can be frustrating–especially against a team like the Rangers that often have trouble finishing.

          • Apr 26, 2017 at 5:45 pm

            Anderson’s career SV% and GAA against the Rangers are better than against any other team.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 8:45 am

      No, no, no, no. C’mon man, that stat should’ve sounded ridiculous to you. A little research instead of passing around bad data like that.

      Rangers SCF: 134
      Canadiens SCF: 153

      In terms of high danger chances:

      Rangers HDCF: 54
      Canadiens HDCF: 59

      Please stop spreading false data.

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 9:08 am

        I’m not spreading false data, I am just repeating what I read. And to be honest, it did not seem ridiculous to me because the Rangers passed up quite a few scoring chances by over passing. They did that on a regular basis throughout the series.

        Nash had 23 SOG, Zuc had 12, and a handful had 11. In a 6 game series. That’s not nearly enough. They also scored 12 goals in the series, again not nearly enough for a 6 game series, 2 of which went into OT.

        And watching the games there were a plethora of shots from the Rangers that were volleyballs to Price. So no, I did not think it was a ridiculous stat at all.

        • Apr 26, 2017 at 9:48 am

          Well, you actually are spreading false data (on two separate threads), though unintentionally.

          I’m not sure how 37 scoring chances over 6 games seemed plausible to you after watching that series. Rangers had plenty of chances, 134 in fact.

          • Apr 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

            He’s not talking outright numbers. He’s talking in percentages 63% to 37%. (63+37=100)

            Still, they vary from your outright figures which show 153 / 134 or a 53% to 47% split in favor of Montreal.

            Maybe the 63/37 data was from Game 3? Who knows.

            • Apr 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

              yep, correct Hatrick. %s.

              • Apr 26, 2017 at 1:15 pm

                Make %s great again!

              • Apr 26, 2017 at 5:45 pm

                my bad.

                I KNOW WHAT I WAS WRITING. lol

  • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:44 am

    The key to victory against the Sens is for us to shut down Karlsson. If you do that, well you stand a better than 75% chance of winning.

    I’m of the opinion that the Sens are a better all around team than were the Hab-nots. They have plenty of fire power, and I don’t know how many followed their series against Boston, but Bobby Ryan was just on fire. We can ill afford to be sloppy in our end, to many good forwards playing for them, and the defense is twice as good as Montreal’s was………..

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Absolutely right. They have weapons.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Walt, you forgot all the exclamation points. You feeling okay today, buddy?

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 5:02 pm


  • Apr 26, 2017 at 7:53 am

    The Habs had decent players, to name a few
    Galchenyuk, Plekanec, Shaw, Pacioretty, Lehkonen, Gallagher, Radulov, Weber & Price, I’ll even toss Ott into the list for his gritty play.

    I think the rangers can beat the sens, also because the rangers are getting better each game not the other way.

    I think Fast and Lindberg are going to push the rangers into the W column this series.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Pass44 – First person to point that out about Fast and Lindberg they were outstanding in the Canadians series. I do them wrecking the Sens back end this series putting up some big points.
      And total Amen to waking up Krieder – We need him and Miller this series and beyond.

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 10:08 am

        Fast has been a playoff star every year, he ups his game big time, every time… should be noted…

        Lindberg too, as the season progressed he climbed back into his past playing style.. I wish we had Stalberg… he is gonna be out for blood against the rangers…

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 10:45 am

        need a BIG wake up from stepan. he looks and acts 20 pds over weight. very slow and ploddy.

        • Apr 26, 2017 at 11:48 am

          Could be because he plays with his wallet in his hockey shorts.

          • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm


  • Apr 26, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Boston did not try to play a real physical game against their defense, finishing their check, something I feel we need to do. This will limit their defenseman from joining or actually leading the rush.

    If we can get their bottom pair to play more than 14 minutes a night, I feel we take the series. We can exploit this pair, who are no match for the speed on any of our lines. We can also use some muscle on Karlsson and Phaneuf, who has been known to lose his cool. Let’s get them short-handed so their PK uses their top line defensive minutes, thereby necessitates using the bottom pair on regular shifts. This also means no stupid retaliatory Zucc or Kreider penalties.

    We know we will see the obligatory Girardi “snow-angel” and the Klein/Holden “I thought you had him” at least once this series, but if we can keep that to a minimum, and our forwards continue to skate, we can win this.

    Hank needs to be all world or we don’t have a chance.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Last time the Rangers played the Sens in 2012, it was a VERY physical series, but the Sens are not so physical now. I think the Habs did the Rangers a favor by playing borderline dirty, which seemed to rile the Rangers up, & they play better when they are pissed off. Need to play intense & finish our checks hard. Don’t get lulled into a “soft” game. Wear them down, guys like Brass, Eriksson, Turris, MacArthur.

  • Apr 26, 2017 at 10:04 am

    The Senators will prove to be a formidable opponent. Their system will give the Rangers fits, but if they can get into the Sens’ zone they should be able to create havoc there. Like with Price they will need to create traffic in front of Anderson. He is too good to let him have clear views of the shots coming at him.

    Defending against the Sens will definitely be tougher than defending against the Habs’ forwards. Monsieur Brassard will be dangerous and he has a good group of forwards with him.

    Hank will again need to be at the top of his game and the Rangers’ forwards will need to okay good team defense and score too.

    This will not be an easy series, but the Sens are beatable.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Monsieur? is that the guy who sits you down when you go out for dinner?


      Brass and Stalberg are both gonna wanna hit the score sheet…

  • Apr 26, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Can we stop calling Eriksson an elite defenseman?

    He’s an elite skater with superb offensive capabilities, but he’s nothing special in his own end.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Just the # 1 Dman in the league. Was Bobby Orr just an elite skater? Closest to him may be Burns.

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 2:11 pm

        #1 Dman is the same as calling him an elite defenseman. He’s not. He’s an elite skater and an elite offensive playmaker.

        He’s an average defender.

    • Apr 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Call him what you want. He’s a generational game changer.

      • Apr 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        No one disputes that but we’re talking about who has a defensive edge, and we’re confusing Karlsson’s generational hockey talent with the fact that technically he’s a defenseman. Take away all those offensive numbers and no one is going to say he’s an elite defenseman because he’s not. He can get banged around quite a bit by a good forecheck and is prone to making defensive zone mistakes. He needs some space to generate a threatening rush but if you hit him and use your speed to force quick decisions he’s nothing special in his own end.

        • Apr 26, 2017 at 5:47 pm

          Chris, what’s the best defense? Own the puck.

          While Karlsson may not be great in the D zone, he’s not there that often.

          He’s the best in the world at his position, IMO.

        • Apr 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm


          If the NHL GMs could hold a fantasy draft based on position, when they’d get around to defense, who would be the first choice of just about everyone? Have to believe it would be Karlsson. He’s a phenomenal player.

  • Apr 26, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Let’s have a Hell Ya for dressing Glass for game one … for a positive vib for this series if for no other reason!!! JackyLee you can live with that eh!

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