The Rangers will face the Senators at Madison Square Garden for the first time since their season-ending loss in last year’s playoffs, and the home team is looking for revenge.
Since 2012 these teams have twice met in the playoffs, with each winning one series. And there are several players from those playoff runs that still remain.
For New York: Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist.
For Ottawa: Erik Karlsson, Zack Smith, Mark Stone and Craig Anderson.
In the first of three meetings between these two teams, the Blueshirts are looking for payback after being ousted from the playoffs.
To do that, they’ll have to shore up the defense. The blue liners have been off their game during the losing streak. And they’ll have to play with more energy and urgency.
Ottawa may be the better team points-wise, but they’re coming off a loss to Arizona in overtime. Being on the second-half of a back-to-back should mean that the Senators will be weary while the Blueshirts are fresh.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Alain Vigneault started his coaching career with Ottawa. Serving as an Assistant Coach. He was a part of the inaugural coaching staff in 1992-93. (For anybody wondering, there have been several incarnations of the Senators throughout NHL history. This is the most recent.) And remained with the team through the 1995-96 season.
Mika Zibanejad played five seasons with the Senators (2011–2016). During his final season in Canada’s capital he set career-highs in: games played (81), goals (21), assists (30) and points (51).
Derick Brassard was traded to Ottawa for Zibanejad after playing four seasons with the Rangers (2012-2016).
Jimmy Vesey is playing in his 100th career NHL game.
Last season the Blueshirts went 1-2-0 against the Senators. (1-1-0 at home; 0-1-0 on the road).
Since the start of the 2013-14 season — Alain Vigneault’s first behind the Rangers bench — the 7th Avenue Skaters have won seven of 12 regular season games against Ottawa. (7-5-0 record).
PLAYER TO WATCH
SENATORS: MATT DUCHENE. This is Duchene’s fifth game since being traded from Colorado, and in his first four he’s pointless, with a minus-five rating. It’s safe to say, this isn’t what Ottawa envisioned when they traded for him. After all, he’s too good a player to remain pointless for long.
RANGERS: PAVEL BUCHNEVICH. The young Russian-sniper is having a breakout campaign. Since October 26, he leads the NHL in goals. He has points in eight of 11 (7G, 5A). And he leads the team in points per 60 minutes (3.25).
Brendan Smith returned to the lineup against Columbus in a losing effort. With the team on a two-game losing streak it’s reasonable to expect changes.
UPDATED 12:07pm — Defense pairings will remain intact (27-55, 22-76,, 18-42).
New lines are: Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich. Nash-Hayes-Fast. Grabner-Miller-Zuccarello. (Yes Miller is in at center). Vesey-Nieves-Carey.
*Paul Carey is tagging in for David Desharnais.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG Network at 7pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
The Rangers enter play with a record of 9-9-2 (20 points). This places them in a tie for last place in the Metropolitan Division.
A six-game winning streak had many believing that this team had turned a corner. However, dropping their last two has resurrected some concerns.
If the Blueshirts intend to make good on their offseason moves with a Stanley Cup championship, they have to right the ship. Right now!