You read that right, the New York Rangers are onto the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where hey will face a new foe in the Ottawa Senators.
In the first round, the Blue Shirts defeated the Atlantic division champion Montreal Canadiens in six games. This series was a battle and could have swayed in either team’s direction on any given night. Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price proved to the world, again, that they are best for a reason. Although, Lundqvist slightly outperformed Price throughout most of the series. Henrik allowed 11 goals over the six games and showed that despite some inconsistency over the course of the regular season, he’s back to being the world-class goaltender at the right time of year.
Carey Price didn’t play bad this series either, it was that the Rangers just seemed to be taking advantage of the opportunities given to them. Carey Price allowed just 12 goals and posted a .933 save percentage, which Henrik Lundqvist just matched by allowing only 11 goals and having a .947 save percentage. Both pretty ridiculous numbers.
A lot of players on the Rangers deserve credit for stepping up in this series for sure. There were the obvious ones and also some players I’ll tip my hat too for what I thought was some outstanding play.
Rick Nash played like a man possessed. Every time number 61 was on the ice, you knew it. A lot of criticism has fallen on him in the past for “not getting it done” and I’m 100% guilty of placing blame on him as well. Boy, did he shut me and those critics up quickly in this series. He had two goals and an assist in six games and played in all key situations.
He didn’t post ridiculous stats, but when watching any of the games in this series, you saw his skill on full display. He was driving to the net with the puck, causing traffic in front of the net to bother Carey Price and was excellent on the penalty kill. Nash looked hungry and seemed to be playing with a purpose and it was noticeable.
Ryan McDonagh, my god. I could write an entire piece on how much I love Captain Mac. The play he had in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden when he stopped the puck at the Habs blue line, put the puck past Max Pacioretty and then fed it down low to Nash for the goal. I swear right then and there is when I decided I was going to name my first born Ryan. Fast forward to two minutes into that video and just enjoy.
The minutes he logged for this series were also spectacular, averaging around 26 minutes a night. He was, as always, the backbone of that blue line and did a remarkable job, but again this doesn’t shock me.
Jasper Fast on the 4th line also was playing like a man possessed in my opinion. It seemed to me that every time he was on the ice he was in the play making something happen. He, just like Rick Nash was a presence when on the ice and no not size wise, but they both did have two goals and an assist in the series. Always fore checking and making his minutes count for sure.
Speaking of taking advantage of your ice time, Pavel Buchnevich. He was inserted into the lineup after the horrendous Game 3 and never looked back. Tanner Glass may have had more goals than the entire Chicago Blackhawks team at one point, but it was time for the Russian to play after the lack luster Game 3. It honestly may have been the turning point of the series. Buchnevich was solid with line mates Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and helped create more chances. Even though he didn’t have a point that extra skill player threat was noticeable.
I could go through the entire roster and break each player down, but you want to get back to your day! Just a quick note, guys like Jimmy Vesey getting into the scrap with Max Pacioretty was huge. Brendan Smith I also thought had a great series playing alongside Brady Skjei and I think that acquisition at the deadline has really panned out. Tip of the hat to those two as well.
Some things that were very noticeable and are going to have to change to beat Ottawa, was the play of Kevin Hayes, JT Miller and Chris Kreider. Offensively they were basically shut down. Three of the top five point scorers in the regular season for the Rangers were held to a lonely three points combined, they each had one point in the series. If this team is going to make a deep run they’re going to need all three of these guys to ramp it up.
The Senators faced the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. After dropping the opening game, they went on to win three straight to take a 3-1 lead in the series. They would finish off the Bruins in 6 games to advance to the 2nd round. With big performances from Captain Erik Karlsson, Derick Brassard (who we will get back to), Bobby Ryan and Goalie Craig Anderson.
Craig Anderson is going through a very hard time at the moment as his wife Nicholle is battling a rare form of head/neck cancer called Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. A lot of people have latched on to root for the Senators just because of this story and I don’t blame them.
Check out the video of Craig being surprised by his wife at Game 6 in Boston. You’re not human if it doesn’t hit you right in the feels.
The Ottawa Senators defeated the Rangers in two out of the three meetings they had this year. The last one being on April 8th when the Rangers lost 3-1, the lone goal coming with under a minute to play.
You know who scored a goal in that game? Derick Brassard. Do you know who used to be a fan favorite Ranger? Derick Brassard. Do you know who’s going to get a lot of cheers? Mika Zibanejad and the Rangers after they defeat Brassard and the Senators.
Zibanejad and Brassard were traded for one another in July of last year. It’s only destiny now that they face off against one another in playoffs playing for their new respected teams. Brassard has had an up and down year due to injury but has really shown his value in the playoffs. Leading the Senators in points with eight. Mika Zibanejad has also shown his value and also had due deal with a broken leg in the middle of the season.
Both teams seemed to have gotten what they wanted out of the deal. The Senators got a playoff experienced and talented Center. The Rangers got a cheaper and younger Center who can produce and saved them money. That money was able to keep Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes in New York.
This series is going to come down to the Rangers being able to solve the scheme of the Senators. They like to play a 1-3-1 format that I’m confident coach AV can figure out in a seven Game series. This one is going to be tough, every shift is going to matter and the Rangers are going to have to step up as always and help Henrik he best they can. I said that if the Rangers could beat the Habs they could make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and I’m sticking with that.
Rangers in 6, because it’s never easy. See you on the other side everyone!