Game One was successful and relatively easy for the Rangers, but it means absolutely nothing it the Rangers don’t come away with the win once again tonight. The Senators would be euphoric if they could go back home to Ottawa with a 1-1 series. What is comforting is that the Rangers, though not perfect, played a very good game in all zones and should have no problem playing just the same tonight; it is up to the Senators to adjust if they want to have any chance of coming away with the win tonight.
The Rangers will be going with the same lineup tonight while the Senators will make a few line changes, which we’ll highlight. Let’s do that as well as bring up some points of discussion before we begin Game Two of the series.
Michalek-Spezza-Alfredsson: Senators’ coach Paul McLean would not commit to this line but he used it in the third period of game one and wouldn’t rule out sticking to it tonight. I’m going to go on the assumption that he will, in fact, employ this line. Thus, matching up against the first line will be an even higher priority tonight since Alfredsson is definitely more threatening than Colin Greening. Ryan McDonagh did a fantastic job of shutting down Jason Spezza last night and Milan Michalek could get absolutely nothing going. Alfredsson adds a whole new dimension, though. The Rangers will need all five forwards on the ice marking their players closely.
Erik Karlsson: Karlsson could generate absolutely nothing last game and as such the Senators as a whole could not. The Rangers pressured him heavily and didn’t give him much time to make decisions. That will be key again tonight. The Senators couldn’t generate anything on the powerplay two nights ago largely because they simply couldn’t gain possession of the puck in the offensive zone. The two forwards on the penalty kill need to pressure Karlsson in the neutral zone and force him to get rid of the puck.
Forecheck: The biggest difference between the Rangers and Senators in Game One was that the Rangers were pressuring the Senators behind the net and throwing the body in the offensive zone. Ryan Callahan led the charge as usual, but almost all of the forwards got the puck in deep and converged on the Senators quickly. Brad Richards’ goal specifically came off of Hagelin pressuring Nick Foligno behind the net, who coughed up the puck to Hagelin. The Senators’ defense is filled with lethargic players like Gonchar and Kuba or softer players like Gilroy. Get the puck deep and Ottawa is going to have trouble.
Artem Anisimov: As we saw in Game One, the Rangers are that much more dangerous when Artem Anisimov is on his game because his combination of size and hands can only be matched by Chris Phillips’ who will be matched with the Richards line. Thus, the Senators have no answer for Anisimov in theory. The question with Artie has been and will continue to be consistency. But Artie needs to show up and not be his own worst enemy tonight.
Make sure to check out Senshot’s preview of tonight’s game. Game starts at 7PM EST and I imagine MSG will be just as loud as it was two night’s ago right from the start.