The Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers are matched up in the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Ottawa Senators beat an injury plagued Boston Bruins team in the First Round in a six game series. The New York Rangers also finished their First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens in six games. The Senators and Rangers have met in the playoffs once before. It was a seven game First Round series that saw New York eliminate Ottawa. Five years later, they meet again.
The Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers Second Round Series Preview
Second Round Storylines
There are a few interesting match-ups to look forward to in this series. Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard were traded for each other before the season began. Craig Anderson and Henrik Lundqvist were both in net last time when these teams met in the playoffs. Both teams are fortunate enough to have good depth in their lineups as well.
Zibanejad along with a 2018 second round pick went to the Rangers in exchange for Brassard and a 2018 seventh round pick. The trade was done to help the Rangers financially, while Ottawa needed an experienced and reliable centre. Brassard put up 58 points in the 2015-2016 season, and is signed at a cap hit of $5 million a year until 2019. New York needed to shed some cap space and add youth. Zibanejad came at a discount price of $2.62 million a year and is five years younger. Everyone got what they wanted with this deal.
Despite breaking his leg on November 20th and missing 26 games total this season, Zibanejad only finished two points behind Brassard in regular season scoring. Brassard played 81 games, recording 14 goals and 39 points, and Zibanejad also scored 14 goals with 37 points. So at a glance you could argue that the Rangers won this deal so far. The Senators are very happy with their guy though. Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion announced Brassard was their best player statistically at the end of the season.
However, all that is in the past. It’s playoffs now and both teams should be very happy with how these two have performed. In fact, they both lead their teams respectively in post season points. Zibanejad has four points, including an overtime game winner in Game 5 of the First Round. Brassard has eight points, the most so far for Ottawa. Neither team probably expected to have these players leading their team in points going into the Second Round.
Another selling point for the Senators to bring in Brassard was his playoff experience. He has 65 games under his belt. Not to mention he has put up big points too. 20 goals and 52 points has earned him the nickname “Big Game Brass”. In the 2015 playoffs he was nearly a point per game player with 16 points in 19 games. Zibanejad may not have as much playoff experience, but he is no stranger to post season hockey. He has 12 points in 22 games. However, the Senators only made it past the first round once in his time there. Neither of these players were involved in the 2012 Ottawa vs. New York playoff series.
Two players that were very involved in the previous match-up are the goalies. Last time, it was Lundqvist who got the last laugh with New York moving on. Anderson will be looking for revenge.
Both goalies have had unusual seasons. With his wife battling cancer, Anderson spent a lot of time away from the ice to support her. When on the ice though, Anderson was solid. His 2.28 goals against average and .926 save percentage in 40 games are some of his best stats as a Senator. And he continued that right on to the post season. Anderson earned a 1.94 GAA and .921 SV% to backstop his team to the Second Round.
Lundqvist dealt with a hip injury in March that sidelined him for a few weeks. But even when he was healthy he struggled this season. In fact, his 2.74 GAA and .910 SV% were the worst numbers in his entire career. “King Hank” would turn things around in the playoffs though. In a goaltending battle with Carey Price in the First Round, he came out on top. He had a sparkling 1.70 GAA and .947 SV% shutting down the offensively challenged Montreal Canadiens. Lundqvist has the ability to steal a series and that’s exactly what he did. The Senators will have to crowd the slot and hope for deflections, rebounds, and screens. If Lundqvist can see the puck, he’s going to stop it almost every time.
Generally in the Second Round teams are having to get creative to complete their lineups because of injuries. Both of these teams have been fortunate to escape the first round fairly unscathed. New York has no one out of their lineup due to injury, and the Sens are only without Mark Borowiecki and Tom Pyatt. Both of these teams do a great job of spreading their offence around.
The New York Rangers no longer rely on big name veteran free agent veterans to be effective. Rick Nash is the highest paid player on the team, yet he finished ninth on the team in regular season points. Mats Zuccarello led this squad with only 59 points and is their best right winger and has played on the second line in the playoffs. The top two regular season goal scorers, Chris Kreider and Michael Grabner are further down the line-up. Kreider is one of the fastest skaters in the league. Although he has only one assist and has yet to tally a goal, he may be the Rangers biggest offensive threat in the playoffs. He had a career high 28 goals this year. He has lots of playoff experience too. Kreider has seen post season action every year of his NHL career with 71 games played.
It’s no secret that the Ottawa Senators offence revolves around Erik Karlsson. Since the 2013-2014 season, he has led his team in regular season points every year. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has shined in the playoffs as well. With six assists so far, even two hairline fractures in his foot can’t stop the captain. That’s the offensive threat that the whole world knows about, but there have been a few forwards on the Senators team that the Rangers will have to watch.
This season was a disaster for Bobby Ryan. The highest paid player on the team finished with only 13 goals and 25 points. He has turned things around in the playoffs though. Guy Boucher has given him a new role and it’s been effective so far. Ryan spends most of his time in front of the net battling for deflections and rebounds these days. In six games he has four goals and all of them have come within a few feet of the crease. Not to mention two of his goals have been game winners.
Another unlikely playoff hero, Clarke MacArthur. The 32-year-old veteran wasn’t even expected to play this season, let alone be an impact in the playoffs. He scored the series clinching goal in Game 6 overtime on an assist from Ryan. Although MacArthur may not have the same presence on the ice as he used to, he still has his hockey IQ. He knows where he needs to be, and has been studying Boucher’s new system all year.
Game 1 of this Second Round Series begins Thursday April at 7pm at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Both of these teams have had a few days between the series to rest up and prepare. All eyes will be on the Brassard/Zibanejad matchup, the goaltending duel, and which lineup can come out on top and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.