It’s official: the New York Rangers will face the Ottawa Senators in the second round. Which team has the offensive advantage?The New York Rangers organization was able to win their series in six games Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens. The team was given Sunday off to relax, gather their thoughts and spend time with their families.
It’s pretty much a guarantee that every Rangers player was watching game six of the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators Sunday afternoon to evaluate their next potential opponent. When it comes to the New York Rangers coaching staff, there are no days off. Every day is an opportunity to gain an advantage over another team.
Rangers coaches are not playing games this postseason. Just ask assistant coach Scott Arniel, who was at the rink in Boston. Absolute Savage.
No rest for the weary. NYR Assistant Scott Arniel in Boston for G6 of the Senators-Bruins. #StanleyCup
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) April 23, 2017
The Ottawa Senators were able to tame the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon and hold on to win the series in six games. That series, much to the delight of New York Rangers fans, was a battle between two sub-par teams.
Of the six games played, four went into extra time with game five going into double OT. Needless to say, the Ottawa players are exhausted, which could have grave implications for them in the upcoming second round. Erik Karlsson, the Senators most dynamic player and captain averaged over 30 minutes of ice time per game and was on the ice for 41-plus minutes during the double-overtime game five. That has to take a toll on both the player and the team.
The schedule for round two has not yet been released as we waited for the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs series to conclude. That series ended in six games with Washington coming out on top. What an amazing series that was. Toronto has shown some courage to go in and give Washington all they can handle. The Leafs have shown even more promise for future years to come. But I digress.
Here’s the schedule:
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 24, 2017
As the New York Rangers prepare for the Ottawa Senators, who has the advantage in all aspects of the game? What should the New York Rangers be on the lookout for?
Alain Vigneault decided to switch things up in the Montreal series by substituting hard-nosed Tanner Glass with the highly skilled Pavel Buchnevich. The move added another offensive threat to the lineup while also deepening the Rangers offensive lines. Let’s take a look at the New York Rangers forward lines.
- Zucc – Hayes – Miller
- Nash – Stepan – Vesey
- Kreider – Zibanejad – Buchnevich
- Grabner – Lindberg – Fast
Deploying four lines that can contribute offensively is the definition of forward depth. These New York Rangers are a prime example of forward depth.
Take in this statistic in for a second. Every New York Rangers players except two (Marc Staal and Pavel Buchnevich) has a point in the playoffs. Wow, now that’s depth.
The fourth line at times has been our best and most consistent line. Grabner adds an element of speed and skill to a line that is willing to put their head down and work, work, work. Fast has been the best all around Blueshirt forward in the playoffs and displays his heart every game.
Vesey has been explosive with Nash and Stepan. Look for him to improve every game for the remainder of the playoffs. Nash has channeled his youth and has finally started to drive the net again causing traffic and top notch rebound opportunities. Hayes and Miller were sub-par the entire Montreal series but found themselves in game six. Hayes made the
Hayes and Miller were sub-par the entire Montreal series but found themselves in game six. Hayes made the incredible pass to Zucccarello and looked to gain confidence from there. Kreider was also not himself against Montreal, but improved throughout the series. His broken Russian (“da”) will help Buchnevich on the ice. Nonetheless, this combination was effective and Zibanejad looks to be turning the corner.
The Ottawa Senators also possess some offense depth but nothing to the same caliber as the New York Rangers. Below are the lines the Senators used in game six against the Bruins on Sunday.
- Dzingel – Turris – Burrows
- Stalberg – Brassard – Ryan
- Hoffman – Smith – Stone
- MacArthur – Pageau – Wingels
Ottawa’s second line has been their most dynamic in the playoffs. Derick Brassard leads the team in the playoffs with eight points (two goals and six assists) while Bobby Ryan on the wing has a team leading four goals along with three assists.
Clark MacArthur is also a threat to watch posting two goals including the series clincher in overtime on Sunday. Hoffman and Stone have been quiet thus far in the playoffs, but were able to produce big points in the regular season, 61 and 54, respectively. Kyle Turris also had a good offensive year with 55 points, centering the top line during the regular season.
The Ottawa Senators have the same level of offensive skill as the Montreal Canadiens without the gut-wrenching physicality. The lack of physicality plays directly into the New York Rangers hand, allowing them to use their speed and skill to drive the offense.
The Ottawa defense, to be discussed in a later article, will have a hard time matching the forward depth the Blueshirts have to offer. The Rangers should be more focused on creating offense, rather than physicality, against the Ottawa Senators.
Overall, this series possesses less of an offensive threat to Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, and the New York Rangers. That being said, Hank and the defense need to stay strong on their game and shut down the Sens from the start.
An interesting side note: both Derick Brassard and Mika Zibanejad led their teams in points in the playoffs, respectively. Now there’s a storyline if I’ve ever seen one. Who will keep it up for their respective teams? We will soon find out.
Overall Offensive Advantage: New York Rangers
For full coverage of New York Rangers playoff hockey, be sure to check out the ESNY New York Rangers Team Center.
Stayed tuned for additional parts to the New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators Outlook. In the coming days we discuss the goaltending matchup, the blueline battle, and who will prevail on special teams.