The Rangers look like an NHL team just waiting for the Stanley Cup Playoffs to begin as most skaters essentially took the afternoon off against the Ottawa Senators
An NHL team either wants to enter the postseason playing their best hockey, or being well-rested. The Rangers chose the latter option as seven regulars were out of the lineup and several players dressed, did not put forth their best effort as the Blueshirts fell to the Senators, 3-1.
Henrik Lundqvist, one of the few players that gave it his all, played very well and made several impressive saves. No. 30 will not play on Sunday in the regular season finale against the Penguins. Round 1 against the Canadiens is expected to start Wednesday night in Montreal.
Blueshirt Bullet Points
1) Mika Zibanejad’s play in his own end has been a concern in recent games. No. 93 will be one of the X-factors in the postseason and will need to produce on both ends. Does he have the ability to raise his game in the playoffs like Derick Brassard did while donning the Blueshirts sweater?
2) Jimmy Vesey’s ability to get forecheck aggressively is the reason he will be in a top-nine role over Pavel Buchnevich. The Russian Rookie has not been overly impressive the past few times he was in the lineup and will most likely be a healthy scratch when Round 1 begins.
3) If Buchnevich is out, that means Tanner Glass will be in the lineup come playoff time. No. 15 dropped the gloves after a knee-to-knee collision on Buchnevich and his gritty play has been something the Rangers have been missing all season long.
4) The defensive lineup is far from settled, and the pairings on Saturday could reflect the playoff lineup if Nick Holden sits out. Marc Staal could slide back into the top pairing, leaving Brendan Smith and Dan Girardi paired, as well as Brady Skjei and Kevin Klein.
5) With much of the Rangers leadership out of the lineup, Michael Grabner and Kevin Klein each had an ‘A’ on their sweater.
6) Speaking of Grabner, the speedster has been unable to finish in recent weeks, including a point-blank shot that hit the post. Kevin Hayes made a great pass from behind the net, but Grabner could not find the back of the net.
7) That was one of the only Rangers scoring chances throughout the contest until Zibanejad completed a wrap-around to prevent a shutout in the final minute. The Rangers only had 19 shots on net Saturday.
8) Lundqvist faced 30 shots and his game has improved in each of his last three starts. Fortunately, he played in enough games after the hip strain to make sure he will be ready for the postseason.
9) The Rangers will finish up the 2016-17 regular season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.