Home Not That Sweet Home
Overall Record at Madison Square Garden
Senators Lead Series 2-0
I - OTT 2; NYR 1
II - OTT 6; NYR 5*
I just don't get
Montreal finished ahead of the Ottawa Senators for a reason, right?
I mean ... the Habs were one of five Eastern Conference teams this season to crack 100 points, and the only one to do so from the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Division registered a league high four teams with 100 point seasons. The Rangers 102 points, incidentally, ranked least among the five, but whose complaining ...
The Habs also finished first in the Atlantic Division with a +26 goal differential. The Rangers finished the regular season with an even better +36 differential.
The Ottawa Senators?
They placed second in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, finishing the season just under the century mark with 98 points, and posted an abysmal -2 goal differential. Just to be clear, that's minus two. In fact, they are the only team in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs with a negative goal differential.
Now consider that Ottawa's best forward, Erik Karrlson, is playing on a fractured foot. Then ponder how a guy whom scored 12 goals all season, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, should suddenly net four goals in Game Two.
The Rangers 27-12-2 road record was the best in all the NHL. Yet, they're fresh off two straight losses at Ottawa, and are now 2-3 in five playoff games played north of the border.
What the hell else do you want me to say?!
All I know is this team gave up a two goal lead with three minutes left in regulation.
Whether at even strength, or on the PK, I still see a lot of Rangers just standing around and playing on their heels. The Ranger forwards' collective back-checking has been particularly embarrassing.
Therefore, I'll say this very plainly: this team which elevated itself to the level of Montreal's physicality, which played with grit, high intensity toughness, and inspired passion against Montreal, is laying down to the Ottawa Senators.
The Rangers are down 0-2 in this series, and to a large extent I hold Alain Vigneault responsible for reverting back to his more preferred finesse style.
Problem is the Ottawa Senators are beating Vigneault at his own game. It is the Rangers getting out-skated. It is Ottawa winning the face-off battle by an 81-67 margin. It is Ottawa controlling the neutral zone; winning time of possession; consistently getting the puck down low in the offensive end; creating better scoring opportunities.
Circling back to Erik Karrlson, he easily leads the Sens with over 66 minutes of ice time. Did I mention he has a hairline fracture in his foot, and that he still finished games One and Two with a plus-one? Am I to believe the Rangers do not have a top two line forward capable of at least nudging him out of the way?
Mats Zuccarello has just three SOG in two games against Ottawa. Can no one else step up? This is my point exactly when I say MatsZuccs can not, and should not be the Rangers best forward. I love Zuccs, but you know what I mean - not on a team with Nash, Kreider, etc.
- The Rangers have killed 7 of 8 penalties against Ottawa, but have yet to score in eight opportunities. Their power play is now just 2 for 23 through eight playoff games. The Rangers PK has allowed four goals in 28 opportunities.