Game 81: Rangers @ Senators Preview

Game 81: Rangers @ Senators Preview

NY Rangers

Game 81: Rangers @ Senators Preview

RANGERS (47-27-6) at SENATORS (43-27-10)

Saturday, April 7th, 12:30 p.m.

If Wednesday night’s 2-0 loss to Washington was any indication of how the final two games of the regular season will play out, we’re in for one hell of a….boring time.

Expect a ton of regulars to once again sit, while those who lose the healthy scratch lotto are likely to play as if they’re made of glass. Sure, that’s ok for trying to keep the team healthy in preparation of the playoffs, but it doesn’t make for very compelling hockey.

With the Senators fighting for their playoff lives the last few weeks, I was hoping this game might have a little juice, especially since they were battling with the Islanders for one of the final spots, but Ottawa’s win on Thursday night punched their ticket and now there’s no juice.

So why should you watch this game?

Let me see if I can conjure up a couple of story lines…

Zibanejad vs. Brassard

This offseason, Jeff Gorton dropped a bombshell on Rangers fans when he traded fan favorite and playoff hero Derick Brassard to Ottawa for the young, exciting Mika Zibanejad. So with almost a full season gone by, let’s see how the trade looks.

The 29-year old Brassard has skated in every game this season putting up 13g, 25a for a P/60 of 1.6 which is the lowest of his career. Meanwhile, in just 54 games due to a broken ankle, the 23-year old Zibanejad has put up 13g, 21a for a P/60 of 2.2 which is the highest of his career. Also, Brassard has a 49.71 faceoff win %, while Zibanejad sits at 52.2%.

Add in that Brassard was paid $6 million this year, while Zibanejad was compensated a mere $2.625M and I’d say the Rangers got the better of the deal.

Taylor Beck

What do you mean, “Who?” You know Taylor, the guy the Rangers acquired  from Edmonton for Justin Fontaine at the trade deadline. What do you mean “Who’s Justin Fontaine?”

Mr. Beck was apparently recalled from Hartford on Friday and will join the Rangers on their trip to Ottawa.

Beck had 13 points (6g, 7a) in 14 games with the Wolfpack since the trade. Beck has 11g, 12a in 90 career NHL games, with his best season being in 2013-14 when he put up 8g, 8a in 62 games for the Nashville Predators.

Great, someone else to play ahead of Buchnevich.

Lineup Drama

Ok, drama might be a bit extreme, but it’ll be interesting to see how AV approaches his lineup in Ottawa. Will he pick six different players to sit? Stay with the same line-up as in Washington? Request a forfeit?

What we do know is that Ryan McDonagh returned to practice on Friday after missing the last three games with an “injury” but will not play Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Vigneault noted that Lundqvist will start against the Senators, while Raanta will get the season finale at MSG against the Penguins on Sunday.

Upon hearing no Lundqvist for final home game, ticket holders be like…

Scouting the Senators

While already postseason bound, the Senators can clinch the #2 seed in the Atlantic Division with a win against the Rangers, so they will have something to play for.

The injury bug has hit Ottawa hard of late as defenseman Erik Karlsson will miss his second game in a row and his fourth in the past six with a lower-body injury.

Also out for the Senators are Zack Smith (upper-body), defenseman Marc Methot (finger) and forward Bobby Ryan (upper body). Hmmm, I wonder what happened to Methot’s finger?

Good lord that’s disgusting!!!!!

Rangers nemesis Chris Neil was recently taken off injured reserve after a broken finger sidelined him since February, but it’s doubtful he’ll play.  Michael Del Zotto didn’t have many highlights as a Ranger, but I’ll never forget this beautiful elbow to Neil’s chin during the 2012 playoffs as payback for the dirty hit on Brian Boyle…

Besides Brassard, Ottawa also employs another former Ranger as they acquired Viktor Stalberg at the trade deadline. He’s been a bit of a disappointment as he’s produced just 1g, 2a in the 17 games since the trade.

So who’s hot for the Sens? Mike Hoffman has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his past 12 games, while Kyle Turris has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past nine games.

Craig Anderson will be between the pipes.

Prediction Time

I’ll let Mr. Blutarsky give you some advice on how to make this game entertaining.

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