Live conversation as the Rangers look to get back on track in Ottawa

Oct 23, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Matt Murray (30) makes a save on a shot from New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 23, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Matt Murray (30) makes a save on a shot from New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Rangers were supposed to make their trip to Ottawa to play the Senators on November 20, but that game was postponed.  The make up game is today and it should be exciting for the Senators as it will be only the second game with more than 500 fans in the seats.  Last week, Ontario’s Premier lifted COVID restrictions and as many as 9,300 fans will be allowed in Canadian Tire Centre.

Attendance for Saturday’s game against the Bruins was announced as 5,212, not a sellout as the restrictions were lifted with little time for ticket sales.  There should be more fans in the seats for today’s game.

The fans didn’t help as the Senators dropped at 3-2 decision to the Bruins in overtime. With a 5pm start, Ottawa will have a short turnaround and hopefully that will help the Blueshirts overcome another energetic, rebuilding team.  Many have drawn parallels to the Red Wings who beat the Rangers in a shootout on Thursday.

The Senators are out of the playoff picture once again, with a record of 18-25-5, they are 19 points out of the last wild card spot. They have no fewer than six pending UFA’s on their active roster with Chris Tierney, Zach Sanford, Nick Paul and Josh Brown named as potential deadline trade bait.

Ottawa is in the middle of the NHL pack statistically. They are 23rd in goals against (3.19) and 24th in goals scoring per game (2.67).  Their power play is 27th overall (16.4%), but their penalty kill is solid at 81%, good for 12th best in the NHL.

The Senators are not healthy, missing some key players including defenseman Thomas Chabot and forwards Drake Batherson and Josh Norris and goalie Matt Murray.  As a result, rookie goalie Filip Gustavsson will get the start.

The two teams have met only once before this season, a 3-2 win for the Rangers in Ottawa in October.  In that game, the Blueshirts came back from a 2-0 third period deficit to win 3-2 on goals from Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren and Barclay Goodrow, all in the final five minutes of the game. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 26 of 28 shots as the Rangers finished off the sweep of a four game road trip. The Rangers were helped with Sens goalie Matt Murray had to leave the game after getting a knee in the head from Kreider.  Backup Anton Forsberg came in cold and allowed the last two Rangers goals on three shots.

One storyline will be the competition between Tim Stützle and Alexis Lafrenière. The Ranger winger was the top pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and Stützle was taken third overall. The two youngsters have played the most NHL games of any players drafted that year.  Both have 22 goals in their brief careers while Stützle has 54 points to Lafrenière’s 34.   It’s worth noting that the Senator is averaging almost three more minutes of ice time per game. Stützle also gets over three minutes of power play time per game (3:01)  compared to  Lafreniere’s 1:18.

One interesting note is that Stützle was brought up as a left winger, but has been playing center for the Senators. He’s pretty awful at faceoffs, winning only 34% of his draws.

Projected lineups

With the Rangers off after this game until Thursday’s meeting with the Capitals, expect to see Igor Shesterkin in net.  This will be his first appearance against the Senators in his career.

NEW YORK RANGERS

20 Kreider– 93 Zibanejad –13 Lafrenière
10 Panarin– 16 Strome – 21 Goodrow
29 Hunt – 72 Chytil – 15 Gauthier
14 McKegg – 17 Rooney – 75 Reaves

55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
6 Jones – 45 Schneider

31 Shesterkin
40 Georgiev

OTTAWA SENATORS

7 Brady Tkachuk – 21 Nick Paul – 28 Connor Brown
10 Alex Formenton – 18 Tim Stützle – 17 Adam Gaudette
45 Parker Kelly – 27 Dylan Gambrell – 16 Austin Watson
13 Zach Sanford – 71 Chris Tierney – 63 Tyler Ennis

26 Erik Brannstrom – 2 Artem Zub
5 Nick Holden – 22 Nikita Zaitsev
98 Victor Mete – 3 Josh Brown

32 Filip Gustavsson
31 Anton Forsberg

Rookie netminder Filip Gustavsson will be in goal with Matt Murray out with an undisclosed injury.  He has played 21 NHL games with an 8-9-3 record, a 3.13 goals against average and .908 save percentage.  After a promising start in nine games last season, his numbers are much worst this season with a 3.80 GAA and .892 Sv% and 3-8-1 record. This will be his first start against the Rangers.

How to watch and the live conversation

It’s an early start for the Rangers as game time is 5pm.  The game will be televised on the MSG Network with the national live stream on ESPN+.   The radiocast will be on ESPN 98.7 FM.

As always, Blue Line Station’s live thread will be up during the game. Will this be a third straight shootout?  Will Lafrenière outplay Stützle?  Will the Rangers score more than one even strength goal?

Join in and share your thoughts with your fellow Ranger fans in the comments section below.