Rangers Intend to Bounce Back Against Slumping Sens

The Rangers visit a snowy and cold Ottawa tonight to face the Senators for the second time this season.

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Henrik Lundqvist’s 20 saves backstopped a 3-0 Ranger victory when the teams met for the first time of the year at Madison Square Garden in mid-November. From that game, the season has headed in decidedly different directions for both teams. The Rangers are 6-2-1 since that win while Ottawa has headed in the opposite direction, winning just once in 10 starts since that loss on Broadway. The Blueshirts look to continue that trend this evening.

The Rangers come into tonight’s action coming off a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars. But, for the spectacular play of Ondrej Pavelec in goal, from a Blueshirt standpoint, the game had no business getting to overtime and to the shootout.

Under siege for the first forty minutes, Pavelec blinked just once and allowed his team to stay within a goal. Rick Nash tied the game in the third and simply put, the Rangers stole a point in the standings. What’s the best thing to do with the game outside of taking the point? Forget it and move on. Over the course of a long season, an opponent is going to come with an “A+” game on a night when you just don’t have it. That was what happened against Dallas.

As noted, Ottawa is on a slide going 1-10-2 in its last 13 games. Erik Karlsson, who single-handedly ended the Ranger playoff run last spring is floundering. Karlsson has no goals and just two assists. More telling is that he is -13 over this recent stretch of play. It looks as though there may be some lingering issues from off-season foot surgery in Karlsson’s game.

This may be hard to accept given just how good he was playing on basically one foot last spring. There is much questioning and trade talk around a team that came within a game of the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Despite the recent woes, there is still too much top-end offensive talent on the Senators to take them for granted.

KEYS

Alain Vigneault gives his thoughts on last night's loss to the Stars and looks ahead to Wednesday night's matchup against the Senators.

1. Blueline Real Estate

The great Herb Brooks used to say that the most important part of the ice was the six feet on either side of the blueline. Getting it out and getting it in through this area changes the complexion of defending and going on the attack. This area of the ice was not very well competed for against Dallas.

2. First on Pucks

Looking at the last game against Ottawa, the Rangers were very aggressive in all three zones getting to the puck. Forcing the issue with and without the puck played a key role in that 3-0 victory. A repeat of the same will be important once again.

3. Scoring Depth

Ottawa has struggled offensively with just five goals in their last five games. The Rangers lead the league in scoring depth with 14 players having accumulated double figures in scoring. All-hands-on-deck when it comes to offense works.

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