Thursday April 12th, 2012
CBC, Team 1200
8th East (41-31-10) @ 1st East (51-24-7)
The Ottawa Senators are no stranger to the “underdog” role, in fact it’s a role they are happy to play. At the beginning of the season they were not only predicted to miss playoffs, but finish dead last in the East. They’ve proven everyone wrong already by making it this far but nobody is convinced just yet. All of the 16 NHL staff members asked predicted New York Rangers to win this series. But that doesn’t bother the Ottawa Senators. They know what they can do and they have no problem exceeding everyone’s expectations once again.
That all starts today. Game one of the opening series between the Sens and Rangers is this evening at Madison Square Garden. Sens won three of four during the regular season, outscoring them 7-1 in the last two. The most recent was March 8th, a 4-1 win at Scotiabank Place. That game however was without starting goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Craig Anderson who will both be key in the outcome of this series.
For the Rangers, their defense and particularly their goaltending are what have been winning them games all season long. They finished third overall in the league in goals against, averaging a mere 2.22 goals against per game. The Senators finish much lower in that category surrendering an average of 2.88 goals per game, worst of all teams that qualified for playoffs. What did get the Sens by was their 2.96 goals per game. That charge was led by Jason Spezza (4th) and Erik Karlsson (Tied 10th) who both finished top ten in the league in scoring. The next closest defenseman to Karlsson was Dustin Byfuglien, who was ranked 84th overall, showing just how impressive Karlsson’s season was. The Sens were also helped by secondary scoring from players such as Alfredsson, Michalek and Foligno.
Four Senators will sit out for game one. Bobby Butler, Zenon Konopka, Rob Klinkhammer and Matt Carkner are all healthy scratches. With Carkner out, it means Matt Gilroy will stay in.
Player To Watch
Ottawa: Jason Spezza - Spezza led the Senators in points this season, averaging over a point per game with 84 in 80 games. He had at least a point in each game against the Rangers this series with 4 goals and 2 assists in the four games. Spezza had a 6 game point streak heading towards the end of the season but was held pointless in the last game.
New York: Henrik Lundqvist - Lundqvist might be the biggest difference maker in this game. He finished top 5 in the league in all four major goaltending categories (wins, save percentage, goals against average and shutouts). Lundqvist however allowed 9 goals in the three games he played versus the Senators this season and has 7 goals against in his final two games of the season. He will need to be on his game for his team to come out on top.
9 goals against ottawa in three games this season – KING HENRY