Game 1, Eastern Conference Semifinals (or is this called the Atlantic Division Final?)
Rangers at Senators -7:00 PM CNBC, 98.7 FM. Online streaming is available on nbcsportss.com or the NBC Sports app.
The Rangers head up to
Ottawa Kenata, Ontario to take on the Kenata Ottawa Senators in game one of the second round, thanks to this ridiculous playoff format. Otherwise, we would be facing game 1 of a short series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. My series preview can be read here and Carp’s much better preview can be read here.
I’ll be watching tonight’s game on a delay because of parenting responsibilities. Doesn’t RR Jr. know that it’s the playoffs!? I didn’t even edit this part from two games in the last series. Clearly, this is a HAV.
Tonight’s probable lineup for the Rangers, via Brett Cyrgalis (@brettcyrgalis):
Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich
JT Miller-Kevin Hayes-Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Nick Holden
Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith
The big news of course is that we get to see what plan AV has devised to help neutralize the infamous Guy Boucher 1-3-1 neutral zone trap (my thoughts on how below). The Rangers are sticking with the lineup that won their last three games against Montreal. Hopefully Kreider and the rest of the zero goal club get in gear for this game. Not much else to say here. Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.
For the Senators, also no changes from the lineup that was clicking for them against Boston. Big Game Brass will be on a line with the inspirational (and series clinching goal scorer) Clarke MacArthur and the playoff rejuvenated Bobby Ryan.
Here are my thoughts on the traditional approach to beating the trap 1) overload one side (strong side) with forwards, in our case, I would say left side in order to force play towards Karlsson’s corner; 2) have the defenseman carry the puck on that strong side; 3) have one forward cut across middle of the ice to see while other two start skating towards the zone; 4) observe how opposing players are reacting; 5a) if the player coming across is open, work a short pass for the zone entry (typically a two-line pass, which is part of what made trapping so effective in late 90s-early 00s as those passes were illegal); 5b) if the player is not open and the defense has not shifted, gain the red line and dump for the other two forwards to chase (party of why Devils were so effective because Brodeur could eliminate dump-ins with his puck handling) ; 5c) if the defense has shifted to shut down the defenseman’s approach to the red line, either carry back or pass back to weak side defenseman to either work dump from opposite side or regroup for new approach. In other words, a lot rests on the decisions and abilities of the defenseman carrying the puck, which is why I expect us to struggle when Staal and Holden are on the ice. By the way, I’m looking forward to Norm’s disagreement with this breakdown.
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