The Ottawa Senators are facing their old playoff rivals from 2012, the New York Rangers. That year was supposed to be the year of the Rangers as they took the Eastern conference with ease and were looking to sweep the young Senators. That didn’t go as planned since Ottawa took 3:2 series lead and had a home game coming up. But the series turned again as expected in the upcoming close series. Back then, close games weren’t in favor of the inexperienced Senators as they couldn’t finish the job, they lost in 7. You may say they were experienced enough since they had Alfredsson, Neil, Phillips and so on. You’d be wrong. The problem was in young goal scorers, Karlsson was very young as well. Not just him but all the other high scorers like Kyle Turris and the offense choked. Will this year be the same?
Experience playing a big role
Henrik Lundquist had the best year of his career if we look at the stats. He had 1.97 GAA as opposed to this year’s 2.74. But everyone knows he is one of the best goalies in the world. Lundquist is the main part of New York Rangers just like Karlsson is the main part of Ottawa Senators. Last few years Karlsson was an offensive defenceman who was on top of the scoring table of the whole Senators roster. If your main scorer is in drought, who is going to score? In 2017 it is different. Karlsson became really the best D-man in the world. Everyone would like to have him on their team. In 6 game series against the Boston Bruins, he has 6 assists and 6 points. Where are the goals? He doesn’t need to score. 6 assists are assists of an artist, just remember that saucer pass for Mike Hoffman who scored it past Tuukka Rask like it was nothing. And that wasn’t the only assist he made that game! The other one was fabulous too, which is way different from #65 we’ve seen in previous seasons.
King Henrik against Craig Anderson
We are not here to talk about EK even though we have material to talk for days. What else is important to track in this series? Henrik Lundquist’s opposing goalie will be Craig Anderson. Anderson had a great series against the Bruins. He may not have faced a lot of shots but those that reached him were hard shots and very good opportunities for Boston. 2nd round series may be similar if the Sens keep up with the good defensive work. Which leaves us with goalie against a goalie. This time Craig isn’t for sure the better goalie as he was when compared to Rask. This is King Henrik we are talking about, Craig Anderson needs to step up as hard as ever to help Ottawa win it.
Zibanejad – Brassard trade
In mid-July last year, Senators traded Mika Zibanejad to Rangers for Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft. This playoff season Brassard was huge for Sens as he is leading in scoring with 2 goals and 6 assists. Along with Bobby Ryan (4 goals, 3 assists), they have improved by a lot since the regular season ended. That’s just what Ottawa needs. On the other side, Mika Zibanejad is leading Rangers with 1 goal and 3 assists in 6 game series against the Montreal Canadiens. Not being a huge fan of statistics, everything in the past is forgotten except the Sens’ bitter taste from 2012 playoffs.
Who wins the close series?
All in all, this should be a very exciting and close series and every game might be an OT win or a regular 1 goal game. Sens in 5? Rangers in 4? Hard to tell objectively, but Senators – Rangers series will be the closest series we’ve seen in a long time, whatever the final series score will be.