McDonagh vs. Karlsson, Hamonic Scores, Devs Ponder Future

1. When the Rangers challenge the Senators in Game 2 at Ottawa, we’ll be treated to another Erik Karlsson vs. Ryan McDonagh — Captain against Captain — main event.

2. Those two premier defensemen each starred, each scored a goal and captivated the crowd in Game 1. The only trouble was that Karlsson scored that crazy goal, which happened to be the winner.

3. When the book, “All-Time Most Bizarre Playoff Goals,” is written, the cockamamie Karlsson game-winner will top the list.

4. Either the Senators’ captain is the luckiest shooter in the hockey world or he’s secretly Sweden’s Billiard Champion.

5. The pity of New York’s Game 1 loss was the manner in which Henrik Lundqvist lost one of the best games he’s ever played in his long, illustrious career.

6. I can’t think of another goalie who — after such a depressing loss — would conduct such a classy, articulate post game interview the way King Henrik did with MSG Networks’ John Giannone on the MSG Networks postgame show.

[Rangers-Senators Post Game Coverage on MSG Networks]

7. Heading into Game 2, Alain Vigneault and his general staff must figure how to bisect the Senators’ “trap” and unleash the guns of Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello & Co.

8. Let’s face it, Ottawa is a better team than Montreal, especially on defense. It’s not only Karlsson, but tough Dion Phaneuf is in his prime while Marc Methot and Cody Ceci — you’ve got to love that name — are no slouches either.

9. Do Not Overlook Department: While the media keeps wondering where Dan Girardi will play next year, the Rangers’ workhorse backliner continues to play fine playoff hockey. Yes, yes, even in the offensive zone.

10. You may have heard this one before, but I don’t mind repeating that Brady Skjei has been playing more like a six-year vet than a full-fledged rookie.

11. A few of my colleagues believe that in their opener, the Blueshirts should have delivered more physical punishment to the Senators. Hearing that makes me wonder when — or if — Tanner Glass will return to the active lineup.

12. Ray Shero left Devils fans guessing when he reviewed his club’s season and questioned his sextet’s “pride, tenacity and pushback.” Without naming names, the G.M. added, “Some guys had a chance to prove that this year. They won’t be back.”

13. Miles (Mile A Minute) Wood isn’t one of them nor Taylor Hall, nor Joe Blandisi and John Quenneville. Tough call figuring who The Boss has in mind, but we’ll find out in the Expansion Draft.

14. New Jersey’s season-finishing 3-17-4 coincided with a serious drop in Cory Schneider‘s performance and the Devs goaltender was the first to admit it. Next issue is what management sees in terms of puck-stopping improvement since it’s questionable whether backup Keith Kinkaid will be back.

15. My man at The Rock, James Mauldin, advises, “Here are some names to look for next season; Michael Kapla, Michael McLeodYohann Auvitu and John Quenneville.”

16. For those fans who do not like the current playoff format, here’s Commissioner Gary Bettman’s reply: “The purpose of the format is to accentuate rivalries and you get your best rivalries in divisional play.”

17. One of the most overlooked — yet significant — hockey prizes is called the “NHL Foundation Player Award.” It’s the league’s community award with two finalists this year including Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic.

18. With little fuss or fanfare, Travis has been in the fifth season of “Hamonic’s D-Partner” program. He started the program in honor of his father, who passed away when he was 10-years-old. During each Islanders home game, Hamonic invites a child or family, who have lost a parent unexpectedly, to attend a game. As his guest, they get to high-five the team as the players take the ice and watch the action from Hamonic’s personal seats. After the game, the guest(s) meet Hamonic, receive autographs, take pictures and Islanders gifts.

19. What sets Hamonic’s program apart from others is that he sits down with each family and they share stories about their lost family member(s) and how they are and have coped with the situation. The program strives to provide comfort and guidance as Hamonic and some of his biggest fans heal together.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Travis Hamonic #3 of the New York Islanders high-fives a young fan during warm up in a camo jersey for Military Appreciation night prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Barclays Center on November 14, 2016 in Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

20. One scout’s X-Ray of Zuccarello: “He can be impactful in ways other than the obvious. The little guy is fearless in getting in the grill of some of the more verbose opponents. Also, he has a better than average shot. He should shoot more than making the extra horizontal or diagonal pass.”

21. The most successful teams have a “brand” and the Rangers are one of them. Here’s how Alain Vigneault defines it: “Part of our identity is to play fast with and without the puck. We need that identity even though physicality is part of the playoffs. But our number one thing is to play a fast, high-tempo game — and get out of our end.”

22. Devils legend Martin Brodeur may have the Assistant G.M. title on his St. Louis door, but Marty appears more valuable as goalie coach. Puck-stopper Jake Allen’s turnabout from sieve to star is due in part to the Marty memos.

23. MSG Networks hockey analyst Steve Valiquette has found a fascinating new way of examining the ice game. In an interview with my sidekick Liz Mirovich, Valley points out that shots taken in pre-game warm-ups often are from the wrong places.

24. “In warm-ups,” Steve explains, “players skate in unimpeded and shoot on the goalie. The truth is that that kind of shot only happens once every two games. That kind of shot has less of a chance to go in than one taken just to the right of it; just outside the slot.”

25. There’s logic to Valiquette’s point and yet he seems to be the first to identify it. “The reason why practice shots from between the two circles are less useful is that — during a game — players in that area are being checked. There are sticks on them and they don’t have the time or space to get the shot off.”

26. Imagine the challenge Pavel Buchnevich faces each game since he never learned English until arriving here and still has an interpreter — Kristina Piseeva — available for him after every game.

27. Our Liz Mirovich happens to be a Russian linguist and obtained some tender words about rookie — and New York — life from Buchnevich. “It was a difficult year for me. It started out pretty well, but then I got injured and it took a long time for me to recover. I practically didn’t see the team and they didn’t see me. Our relationships were lost. Now, I feel closer to the guys. Before, it felt like I was on the team but I wasn’t.”

28. Prior to the second playoff round, Mirovich asked Buchnevich about living in a metropolis such as Manhattan. “Overall,” he explained, “I like it very much. But I want to find a quieter neighborhood. Being this was my first year, I didn’t know the what, where, how of the city.”

29. Reader — and Devils fan — Howard Sachs writes about an Ilya Kovalchuk return to the NHL: “I believe that New Jersey will sign him to a one-year $5-$6 million contract. Then Ray Shero will flip him for a pretty good pick or prospect. If I’m another G.M., I would explore that kind of deal.”

30. You have to wonder whether Garth Snow would be interested in Kovy and — just for the sake of fantasizing — wonder how John Tavares and Kovy would work together.

31. Until there’s a Tavares resolution, I continue to do random polling among Islanders fans and most believe that the Captain will remain an Islander. (Remember, these reactions are purely gut feelings and do not represent what JT nor his agent are thinking.)

32. Good for Garth Snow re-signing vet D-man Dennis Seidenberg, who played smart and emerged with the team’s best plus-minus which is amazing when you think about it.

33. Not that A.V. needs advice behind the Rangers bench today, but reader Gus Vic offers this: “Watch Ottawa try to clog the neutral zone to a crawl. From there it’s simply a matter of Rangers using speed to chip and forecheck.”

34. P.S. Easier said than done!