Rangers Return Home for Playoff Rematch vs. Sens

The Rangers get back to Madison Square Garden tonight to face the Ottawa Senators, looking for a win after consecutive losses on the road.

The game marks the first of the season against the Senators who eliminated the Blueshirts in last spring’s playoffs, winning the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semis in six games.

The brilliance of Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, who as it turned out was playing basically on one foot due to injury, was the difference in the series. When a big play had to be made, he made it. If there was ever an example of “your best players have to be at their best,” Karlsson’s performance was certainly that.

[Watch Rangers-Senators Tonight on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

The Rangers enter tonight’s game coming off a 2-0 loss in Columbus to the Blue Jackets on Friday night. While a loss is always taken personally there are times where you need to acknowledge the opponent. Columbus played a John Tortorella-coached game to perfection. They were gritty, opportunistic and most importantly backstopped by tremendous goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky.

Henrik Lundqvist was very good but his game in hindsight may have best summed up the evening for the team in front of him. Hank played well enough, but it wasn’t good enough because the opponent, Bobrovsky, was just a little better. Move on.

In a deal that involved three teams, Ottawa acquired Matt Duchene from Colorado for Kyle Turris. The skilled Duchene has not scored a point in his four games as a Senator and is -5 in the plus/minus category. He will get his points, but it will be interesting to see how this deal ultimately plays out given that the Senators with the equally skilled Turris came within a game of the Cup Finals last season. Tinkering with chemistry that has a proven track record can be dangerous.

[Read: 7 Facts to Know for Today’s Rangers Game]


1. Power Play

A scorching hot power play drove the recent six-game winning streak. Going 0-for-6 has played an equally important role in the recent two-game slide. The Blueshirts need to be better coming up ice and entering the offensive zone on the power play. Get it in. Set it up. Go to work.

2. Honest Physical Game

Initiating a hit to make a play. Taking a hit to make a play. Not turning away from finishing a check. Being committed to winning the one-on-one puck battles. All of these will be important tonight against the skilled Senators.

3. Karlsson

Despite missing his first five games as the result of offseason foot surgery, Erik Karlsson leads his team in assists with 16 and is second on the team in scoring with 17 points. He stirs the drink and must be paid attention to. Something that didn’t happen enough last spring.

[Watch Rangers-Senators Tonight on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]