Quicker and Dirtier Series Preview

I thought I was going to have time to write this, but a few unexpected events at work later and I’m trying to piece this on my phone over a few commutes. Clearly, this is a HAV.

Goaltending

Last time I started with the forwards and defense, but I thought I should start this time between the pipes. Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal in the first round. All of the “ifs” were emphatically answered in his favor.  Sure, there were one or two goals he would want to have back, and he oddly had issues holding onto his stick, especially in games 2-4, but he was simply brilliant.

Future Masterton Award winner Craig Anderson has been a sneaky great goaltender in the NHL over the past four seasons, a lot of which was overshadowed by bad teams in front of him. He’s also traditionally done well against the Rangers. Finally, while his numbers ended up nice and shiny against Boston in the last round, a lot of the credit has to go to the lack of quality opportunities for Boston.

Advantage: Rangers

Defense

Ottawa has the best skater in this series in Erik Karlsson, and frankly, it’s not even close. The man is a wizard, and quite possibly my favorite player in the NHL to watch play aside from Connor McDavid. And he did all of that with two hairline fractures in his heel, which are supposedly close to being healed (no pun intended). I changed my pick of Ottawa to Boston based solely on Karlsson’s injury struggle heading into the playoffs.

The rest of Ottawa’s top four is also formidable, as Dion Phaneuf fits very nicely as a second pairing defenseman. Basically, he is to Ottawa what Marc Staal used to be for the Rangers a couple of years ago, except with a lot more baggage because of his contract and time in Toronto. Marc Methot and Cody Ceci round out a very solid top four. Ottawa’s third pairing leaves much to be desired. Hard nosed hitting and penalty machine Matt Borowiecki was injured against Boston and there has been a rotation of Ben Harpur, Chris Wideman, and  Fredrick Claesson. Expect Harpur and WidemanClaesson to be the third pair.

For the Rangers, it was a physical series and the coming out party for trade deadline acquisition Brendan Smith, who had a very gutsy and effective performance in the first round. All of the Rangers defensemen had periods of up and down play, but over the course of the series, five of the defensemen turned in great series. I am probably in the minority when I say Brady Skjei was the second best defenseman over the course of the series, behind captain Ryan McDonagh. I thought his ability to move the puck and quickly get it out of the zone was vital in preventing Montreal from establishing zone time when Montreal tried to surge. Dan Girardi had his best stretch of play in years and was a physical presence, although his positioning and play with the puck still left much to be desired. Marc Staal improved with each game in the series. However, Staal’s defensive partner, Nick Holden, struggled mightily.

While the Rangers 2-6 are definitely deeper than Ottawa (especially beyond the top 4), Erik Karlsson is such a difference maker, it can’t be ignored.

Advantage: Ottawa

While the finish wasn’t there as often as you would like for our boys, they did still manage to score a decent amount against Vezina Trophy finalist (and former winner and league MVP) Carey Price What a series for Rick Nash. They definitely were too fancy or not engaged enough at times, but eventually put in the work and got the job done.  Some forwards still have much more to show, in particular Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, JT Miller, and Kevin Hayes. Rookies Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey were both excellent, especially Vesey (monster jr.) Finally, the fourth line was tremendous. Oscar Lindberg is playing the best hockey of his career, even if the points don’t match the quality of play.

Ottawa has some big time goal scorers in Mike Hoffman and a red hot Bobby Ryan. They also have a great two-way player in Mark Stone, a personal favorite of mine. They are strong down the middle, with Kyle Turris and Big Game Derick Brassard. Their forward depth isn’t impressive, unless you are scared of JG Pageau and Ryan Dzingel. (Now that I’ve said that, expect both to have monster series). That all being said, only Ryan and Brassard had big series for Ottawa up front.

Advantage: Rangers

Special Teams

Ottawa’s power play is humming right now at 21.7% in the first round. Meanwhile, the Rangers nearly went 0 for the series against Montreal, finally scoring in game 6 for a cool 6.7%. Meanwhile, the Rangers’ penalty kill, which struggled mightily down the stretch, rebounded well against Montreal to the tune of 85%, along with a short handed goal. Ottawa’s penalty kill is also operating at an acceptable 81.3%.

The PKs being about equal, the difference in PP efficiency gives Ottawa the edge.

Advantage: Ottawa

Coaching

I don’t think much of Guy Boucher as a coach. His system can take a bad team and make it a little bit better, but will never produce a great team.

Matter receiving criticism of having been out coached in the playoffs (Sutter 2014, Cooper 2015, Sullivan 2016), AV coached to near perfection against Montreal. Huge advantage here for the Rangers.

Advantage: Rangers

Intangibles

The Rangers are a battle-tested group of hardened veterans. Even most of the kids are veterans. They will need to draw upon that experience in order to be willing to do what is necessary to beat Ottawa’s hard trap. If the Rangers try and play fancy boy hockey all series long, it won’t be a long series.

Also, I covered this earlier, but it bears repeating just how dynamic Karlsson is. The prevailing idea is that the Rangers will have to play some dump and chase, likely to Karlsson’s corner. Kreider’s speed and size will have to be utilized to its fullest potential. We need to be the team setting the tone and dictating the pace. If we play into the trap, it will be a short series. I expect them to make the necessary adjustments.

Advantage: Rangers

Prediction: Rangers in five. My confidence means that Ottawa almost certainly wins the series.

65 thoughts on “Quicker and Dirtier Series Preview”

  1. Never heard, Doodie. Imagine growing up like that? This is pretty tremendous story of a person who was able to overcome this situation. He was essentially unwillingly drawn into a life of a fugitive, hiding his identity. What he was able to achieve is amazing. And kudos to his mother.

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  2. Sens have some mojo on their side re Andersen and MacArthur.
    Ott Top 4 better than NYR Top 4 on paper, Sens may have problem with speed. Cece Rider is wild card.
    NYR must score against Ott 3rd pair which really stinks.
    Big Game Brass, Victor Stalberg – cue up the former Ranger coming back to strike daggers.
    Dr. Zachary Smith – Lost in space? More like taking away space, but can he keep up with the speed.
    LGR!
    .

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  3. ILB – Great post. Like Doodie I sort of remember reading about the story. At first, I thought it was going to be about Patrick O’Sullivan. I have his book at home and is next on my list. I am currently reading Sean Pronger’s “Journeyman”. I recommend the book because we all have read books by and about the stars, but not too often do you get a chance to read about your “average” NHL player. If anyone needs a list of hockey books to read just let me know and I can make some recommendations because I have been on a reading jag the last year or so.

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  4. I am not so sure Ottawa has the special teams advantage. Yes, they have been better in the playoffs so it is a small sample. Do you know which team has the best PP in the playoffs – Calgary at 37.5%. Do you know who has the best PK in the playoffs – Montreal and Minnesota at 93.3% (which means the Rangers & Blues had the worst PPs). All three of the “best” teams are out of the playoffs.

    During the regular season, as bad as we want to make the Rangers out to be they were still 11th in PP (20.2%) while Ottawa was 23rd (17.0%). The PKs were almost identical with the Rangers holding a 0.1% advantage.

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  5. Good morning fellow Boneheads welcome to Thursday. I’ve always said nothing is ever easy for the Rangers, even when they win it’s never easy. I am confident they win this series in 6 but it won’t be easy!

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  6. I know it had nothing to do with icing, doodie… I was just saying… these type of hits still happen no matter… next NHL will change the rules again and turn the game into no touch hockey.

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  7. Ottawa is no joke. This series will be as tough as Montreal, maybe even more so.

    I think Ottawa’s trap will be a bigger story than Karlsson.

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  8. Just based on the way you beat the 1-3-1, and the responsibilities of the defenseman to move the puck and make quick decisions on the rush in order to take what the defense is giving you, I think we will struggle mightily in this series when Staal and Holden are on the ice.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A lot of people, myself included, are looking past the Senators to the Caps/Pens, which means Ottawa will almost definitely win this series.

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  10. Was i the only one watching that game late last night? Impressive play by Earlers. Don’t Ducks best shot and won Game 1 on road. Lot’s of goals scored in both games.
    Go Tam!

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  11. Sens in 5. Rangers be over confident and stubborn in neutral zone. The games at msg will be a complete bore as sens suck life out of middle of the ice.

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  12. If Phaneuf was with the Rangers he would get more grief here than Staal or Girardi. Series will be tough because Rangers don’t do anything easy but our depth should be the difference. Sens will have to face 4 lines that can score versus one line from Boston series.

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  13. Great job, Doodie. Disagree about AV being outcoached by Cooper though. Very much so.

    Rangers’ Game 3 loss had zero to do with the referees, and 100 percent to do with their pathetic effort/performance.

    It’s internets, ilb.

    Phaneuf>Mike Green. But not a lot > He’ll be spinning like Yemelin.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello chuckleheads…
    The rangers actually showed up physically in round one (sans game 3)…if they maintain that good mix like the mtl series…I predict…
    Rangers in 5

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  15. I happen to agree RR2. I think it’s similar to Torts last series as Ranger coach. The scores are close, the series is not.

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  16. Nice job Doodie!

    Good job Carp in your article and the Game Misconduct spot.

    Tough to read about the loss of jobs and all the hard work that we never see that goes into the final products.

    As far as the Rangers-Senators series goes, I think the Rangers have been dealt a pretty good hand. Last year, they, (albeit with an inferior lineup), did not tank and faced the Pens. That miserable experience of facing the leagues’s best team, the trap and a great friend/teammate in Hagelin, should help AV and this Ranger team to prepare for and overcome this challenge.

    They didn’t tank this year either, but they sure didn’t work very hard to avoid being the 1st wild-card.

    I know this series won’t be easy, but i can’t think of any of the remaining playoff teams that I’d rather face than Ottawa. I imagine the fans of who ever loses the Pens-Caps series will be upset about the asinine playoff format. Well, if the Rangers do get through, we can say that we got the shaft last year, while the Islanders went to the ECF, (as the Great Carp-nack predicted).

    Much as I hate to agree with Wicky, I say Rangers in 5. LGR!!!

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  17. Nice post. Were you dictating while driving? 🙂 I was watching the video in an earlier post showing Philly stalling play in front of Tampa Bay’s 1-3-1 trap, when Boucher was coach. Had to be before the no-touch icing rule went into effect. If they play the trap the same way, I’m thinking we beat that trap by throwing it down ice and having our speed guys beat them to the puck in the corners. LGR!

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  18. I require a straight jacket and padded room for a Game 7. Are those accommodations offered at Canadian Tire Centre?

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  19. Nervous about this series. Too many people have us favored. I like being the underdog! Boys better bring it…LGR!!

    Looking way too far ahead: Just imagine if it comes down to Edmonton vs. Rangers in the finals…and Talbot ends up raising the cup over his head! :0

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