Overall, the New York Rangers outclassed the Ottawa Senators. Demonstrating why they are the first ranked team in the Eastern Conference, New York kept Ottawa playing on its heels all night, chasing and floundering around the ice, causing miscommunication and basically making them look amateurish. The Senators bumped into each other, disappeared at key moments and literally abandoned Anderson to fend for himself.
The good news is that Anderson was a standout for the team, despite the 4-2 loss. He was rock solid in net, but even he couldn’t stop the Rangers top players, as they were allowed to walk right into his paint. His bravado may have gotten the best of him, as he made a desperate attempt to help his team at the blue line in the second, leaving a wide open net. He was lucky that the puck didn’t go in, but his effort was understandable, as Ottawa was on its best rush of the game and he just wanted to keep it going. A high risk move from a highly talented goaltender.
He made a valiant effort in a game where Ottawa quickly deflated. A brilliant and intense five minute assault in the second period was Ottawa’s best hockey of the night. Despite late goals in the third period from Alfredsson and Condra to prevent a shut out bid, Ottawa failed to take advantage of four power play opportunities and did everything but score during their five minutes of glory. Sensing that the Senators may gain confidence and momentum, Tortorella used his brain instead of his mouth and did the smartest thing he’s probably done all season: call a time out to get his players in order.
The Rangers got the message quickly and shut down Ottawa. The New York Rangers took the first game of their series against the Ottawa Senators 4-2, but the news may not be as bad as it may seem. Playoffs are about momentum and while it looks like Ottawa may be getting to the post-season party a little late, it does look like they will get there.
Case in point: the Ottawa bench is sending a clear message to New York that this is going to be a long and punishing series. The chirping and the bumping have already started well for Foligno, Neil and Cowen, who are all playing a physical game. Alfredsson had more than one good chance on Lundqvist and probably should have capitalized on more than one shot on goal, had he gotten a fortuitous bounce. While nobody really has Lundqvist figured out, Alfredsson with his veteran smarts and patience, may be the closest one to cracking the code.
Despite cutting his eye after a knock on the glass, Condra managed to muster a goal off a great feed from Foligno, which is small compensation but good for confidence. More bounces should have gone Ottawa’s way, but they couldn’t maintain their intensity level after the timeout and Gaborik’s unassisted goal.
It will take more than intensity to beat the New York Rangers. They will work as hard as any team, blocking shots and getting into dirty areas and finishing their checks. Ottawa needs to play New York smarter; they need to capitalize on the Rangers’ tendency to get down low and block too early. Ottawa needs to show patience, allow New York to overcommit and lay big bodies down on the ice like so many blue seals and then take them out. Punishing the Rangers physically by taking them to task on the blocks will be one surefire way to grind them down.
New York’s strong point is their weak point as well. Ottawa has to learn how to exploit it.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.