How The Rangers Will Win

The biggest key for the Rangers in order to be successful is to shut down Erik Karlsson.  Karlsson is hands down Ottawa’s best player and certainly has the ability to alter the result of games.  Known for his superior skating skills and hawk eye vision on the ice, Karlsson needs to be kept in check at all times.  His passing is meticulous, to say the least.  In 77 games played, he tallied 71 points, which is third in the NHL amongst defensemen.  The Rangers best bet is to play him extremely physical and hope to wear him down as the series goes on.  Karlsson averaged a half hour of ice-time during the first round.  It has also been reported that he played the entire first round with two hairline fractures in his heel.  The Rangers need to exploit this with their speed and physicality.

Erik Karlsson is very familiar with the Rangers star goalie Henrik Lundqvist.  The two are Swedish countrymen and are teammates in international play.  They played together as recently as the World Cup of Hockey in September.  They both certainly respect each other’s play and it will be interesting to see them go head-to-head.

How The Senators Will Win

A key for the Senators in this series is to lock down the neutral zone.  Ottawa is known for making it very difficult for opposing teams to possess the puck over the blue line and into their zone.  If the Senators can successfully prevent access to their zone, it will force New York to dump the puck and try to forecheck.  In each of Montreal’s wins in the first round, the Rangers had to dump the puck often and were rarely successful in retrieving it.  If Ottawa can limit the Rangers in the neutral zone, it will lead to more time of possession for them.  This will then lead to more potential offensive opportunities.  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the more scoring opportunities you have, the better chance you have of winning the game.

What The Rangers Need To Improve

One of the Rangers biggest issues of the first round was their power play.  In order to be successful in the second round, they are going to need to improve on special teams.  Throughout the first five games of Round One, the man advantage did not look like any “advantage” at all.  It is quite embarrassing when your opponent tallies more scoring opportunities than you do on your own power play.  The Rangers snapped the drought with a Mats Zuccarello power play goal in Game Six.  They need to build off this going forward and capitalize on their opportunities.  Often times the Rangers will go through a full two minute power play without registering a shot on goal and that is unacceptable.  The Rangers have enough talent to improve this area and, if and when they do, it will elevate their offense to the next level.

What The Senators Need To Improve

Judging by the first round, the biggest need of improvement for Ottawa is being able to hold onto a lead.  In three games during their Round One series, the Senators let the Bruins come back and tie the game in the second period or later.  Granted, they wound up winning some of those games, but it is still crucial to be able to put teams away.  In Game Five, the Senators opened up a 2-0 lead, only to watch it crumble.  The Bruins wound up winning the game in overtime by a score of 3-2.  If the Senators could have held or extended their lead, they could have ended the series a game earlier.  This was also against a Bruins team that was plagued with injuries. If they show the same flaw against the Rangers, they can wind up in trouble.

Who Should Win

The Rangers opened up in Vegas as the heaviest favorite of the second round (-150).  This just means that there are going to be some very competitive second round series.  Well, at least that is what is expected.  The Rangers are rightfully the favorite in this series and should be able to advance.

Who Will Win

Rangers win in six games.  The speed of the Rangers will be too much for the Senators to handle.  The Rangers depth overall will also be a huge advantage, as seen in their last series based on the production from the fourth line.  The Rangers could certainly end this series in fewer than six games, but everyone knows they tend to fall asleep sometimes.  Oh, and of course the biggest advantage for the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist.

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