The second round is just two days away, and it’s a strange feeling knowing that the Senators are actually still alive in the playoffs.
It’s an exciting time, and I feel like after one series win, every fanbase thinks to themselves, “well...what if we actually have a chance?” The good news for Ottawa is that the Rangers are not some juggernaut team that is unbeatable. If anything, I think they dodged a bullet by not playing the Montreal Canadiens in this series.
Heading into last series, I did a “tale of the tape,” which listed tons of different stats to compare the Senators and Bruins on pretty much every quantifiable level. So for this series, I wanted to do the same thing. The team with the better number is in italics.
Tale of the Tape
|48.64%||Corsi Last 25||48.66%|
|47.33%||Corsi % RD1||50.34%|
|47%||xGF% RD 1||49.97%|
|46.69%||SCF% RD 1||47.77%|
|Mats Zuccarello (59)||Top Scorer||Erik Karlsson (71)|
Once again, there are a few stats that some people might have wanted me to include such as blocked shots, faceoffs, and hits, but those haven’t shown any strong correlation to winning, so I found it a bit unnecessary to include them.
I think that this table is much more interesting than the one compared with the Bruins. The Rangers did end up with 102 points this season, but they don’t look amazing by looking at the stats. There has been talk about the Senators playing over their heads right now, and perhaps there’s some truth to that. However, the good news is that the Rangers certainly over-performed this year as well.
In terms of shot metrics, Ottawa actually fares better more recently and as a whole.
Although the Rangers had better numbers for expected goals for and scoring chances over the course of the season, the Senators raw corsi was slightly better, plus they were better in the final 25 games of the regular season as well as the playoffs. It’s not as if Ottawa blows them out of the water, but it is encouraging to see that they have the slight edge.
My guess is that all the additions to the Senators lineup have really helped them, meanwhile the Rangers only addition at the trade deadline was Brendan Smith.
One intriguing stat is the Rangers record on the road, which was 27-12-2 this season and the best in the league. So perhaps “home ice advantage” may not even be that big of a deal this series.
While it’s great to see that Ottawa has the slight edge in the shot metrics, New York certainly has the advantage in terms of special teams. Their penalty kill is just barely better than Ottawa’s, but their power play is 3% better. Most importantly though, New York had 255 fewer penalty minutes.
Luckily, the Senators penalty kill didn’t kill them against the Bruins, but discipline (or lack thereof) could be another potential storyline here.
It’s obvious that the Rangers offense ranks much better than the Senators, and it helps that they had a very high shooting percentage of 10.38%. Furthermore, they scored 44 more goals than the Senators while employing four lines that can score on any given night. No doubt it will be a tough task to shut them all down, as all three defense pairings will have to be playing well.
Despite all of these interesting categories, I think the most discussed topic will be the goaltending battle. I don’t think anyone will deny that Henrik Lundqvist is better than Craig Anderson, although the Senators actually had a higher save percentage as a team this season. However, Lundqvist proved that he’s not done yet, as he posted a .947 SV% against the Canadiens in the first round.
It’s certainly quite scary going up against Lundqvist, but Anderson may be up to the task. He does own a .931 SV% in 33 career playoff games, after all.
And last but not least, we can’t leave out the fact that Ottawa has Erik Karlsson, and New York doesn’t. Ottawa has the best skater in this series, and sometimes that can make all the difference. Alex Novet of Hockey Graphs has a great article on why hockey is a “strong link” game, making Karlsson more important than we thought.
There are a lot of interesting ways to dissect this table, and I think that Ottawa stacks up pretty well against New York. As someone who’s a strong advocate of shot metrics, it’s encouraging that they have the upper hand in most of those categories. Unlike the last time they made the 2nd round in 2013 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa has a real shot to win.
I can’t wait to watch even more playoff overtime hockey.