Adnan: New York. Hard to go against Lundqvist despite the regular season, especially with the series he had against the Canadiens and with Anderson starting out pretty weakly in the first three games.
Ary: Even if Craig Anderson is great (he is), I never ever bet against Henrik Lundqvist. I hope that Karlsson and Stalberg have some tricks that they can pass onto the rest of the team.
Beata: I have to say New York. Craig Anderson is a great goalie and I'm very glad we have him between the pipes, but round 1 showed us that he is at his best when facing 30-40 shots every night. When the Sens are actually playing good defense? Ehhhh. I'm not too worried about him, but he did let in a few bad goals against the Bruins, and I certainly don't think he's going to outplay Henrik Lundqvist.
B_T: If this had been the first round I might have been swayed to call it a wash or even give the edge to the Sens, but King Henrik’s resurgence in the first round after a weaker season gives this one to the Rangers.
Callum: I truly think Craig Anderson had a solid Round 1. He battled through two iffy performances to give the team three outstanding starts down the stretch. But Henrik Lundqvist takes the cake on this one. He's been absolutely dominant the past couple weeks, putting up a 94.7 save percentage against the Habs in six games.
Colin: This is probably the toughest call. Craig Anderson's shown he can play lights out, which he's done especially in the last few games. Meanwhile, Lundqvist had a .947 SV% in the first round, after having a bit of a down year in the regular season. Draw.
nkb: This is a tough question because Henrik Lundqvist is coming off unquestionably his worst regular season as an NHL goalie, and he's 35 so he might well be entering his decline phase, but he also just posted a .947 SV% in six games against the Habs in the first round. At their career apexes Lundqvist is the better of the two, but are we going to see the same Rangers goalie from this regular season or from every year prior and this year's play-offs? Craig Anderson is good, and he has the potential to win a series by himself, but it seems like the Henrik of old might be back. Advantage: NYR.
Peter: New York. Although Henrik Lundqvist didn't look quote as good as usual in the regular season, he's back in form in the playoffs. And as good as Craig Anderson can be, he can't quite match Lundqvist at his best.
Ross: Rangers. King Henrik and Craig are both old, but Henrik was once possibly the greatest goalie in the NHL. That beats out Andy's years of being great.
Trevor: I know a lot of us love Craig Anderson, and he had better numbers than Henrik Lundqvist this season. But it's Henrik Lundqvist. This is an easy call. Advantage New York.
Staff Verdict: 9-0-1 Rangers
Which team has the edge in Goaltending?
This poll is closed
Adnan: Ottawa, hard to argue with the shots allowed total in the first round and even in the regular season it was a tie between the two clubs. Plus, Erik has gone full Erik.
Ary: Surprisingly, Ryan McDonagh has had a rough year (for his standards) but still scores like a top-pair D and will be tasked to play against Ottawa's top line. The most intriguing battle I'll be watching this series is how matchups work, because the Rangers don't have the defensive depth to match Guy Boucher if he spreads his offense around. The Rangers D corps are healthy -- unlike the Bruins -- but Girardi and Staal are beatable. Adam Clendening, a deft puck-mover, is often healthy scratched (as he was vs. the Habs), so the Sens will mainly have to worry about the resurgent Nick Holden and the late bloomer Brady Skjei, who was drafted in 2011 but has made himself a quality NHL regular this year. Meanwhile, the Sens appear to have serviceable depth in Harpur, Claesson, and Wideman, but it could all go to moot if/when Borowiecki returns. If the Senators can survive Phaneuf - Ceci getting turned by the Rangers speed, the other 4 D may be able to take advantage.
Beata: Ottawa. How strange is this? Am I actually saying that the Ottawa Senators' defense is... good? How things have changed since last year. Karlsson is still Karlsson, Methot has looked pretty steady, and I'm not the biggest Ceci-Phaneuf fan but Dion especially has exceeded my expectations so far. Add Wideman-Claesson to the mix (not that that will actually happen, but one can dream), and I'm pretty confident in this D corps.
B_T: Erik Karlsson was at least 50% of the defensive ability of the Senators in the first round, and amazingly that’s not a slight on the rest of the blue line.
Callum: The Senators have the better defenders and it isn't particularly close. Especially after Erik Karlsson dominated the first round and Ben Harpur and Freddy Claesson were solid additions to the D corps, this one has Ottawa written all over it. If Guy Boucher can figure out how to utilize Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci properly, then this is a huge upperhand for the Senators.
Colin: As much as the second pairing is still a weakness for the Senators, the Rangers' defense corps is debatably one of the thinnest in the league. After Ryan McDonagh, it completely trails off. They've been plagued by giving big minutes to players like Dan Girardi and Brendan Smith, who Karlsson and co. should be able to feast on. Ottawa takes this category for sure.
nkb: Neither of these teams boast a particularly strong blueline top to bottom, but the Senators have Erik Karlsson and that is more than enough to give them an edge. If Karlsson is feeling healthier and more able to handle a heavier workload as the series progresses, this will be particularly large benefit. Advantage: OTT
Peter: Ottawa. Erik Karlsson on his own gives Ottawa the win here, but beyond him I've been very happy with the post-season play of pretty well every defender on Ottawa, from Karlsson down to whoever you want to rank as eighth on the depth chart. The Rangers don't have the talent or the depth that Ottawa has on the back-end.
Ross: Senators. Karlsson > McDonagh, and it continues from there. It's not a good look when Holden and Skjei are probably your next best defencemen and nobody's ever heard of them. Also not great that you trade for Brendan Smith and he's suddenly a 20-minutes-per-night guy.
Trevor: The Rangers defense is their main weakness, and it has to be one of the worst groups amongst all playoff teams. Ottawa's defense is not superb either, but they have Erik Karlsson who is miles better than Ryan McDonagh or Brady Skjei. Ottawa definitely wins in this category.
Staff Verdict: 10-0 Senators
Which team has the edge on the blue line?
This poll is closed
Adnan: New York. The Rangers had eight guys in the regular season with 37 or more points and they are a deeper lineup than Ottawa. The Senators are trying to balance the lines by putting their two best wingers with Pageau but I think the Rangers edge this one.
Ary: Kreider - Stepan - Zucc isn't as dangerous as Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak, but they aren't anything to scoff at, either. The trio all put up 50+ points this year, and are the only Rangers forwards to generate more than 50% of the shot attempts when they're on the ice. Just because the others aren't dominating the shot clock, doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, and the most worrisome thing about the Rangers is that there's skill down the lineup that can beat you with a wonderful individual effort (like Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich). The Sens only had 3 forwards above the 40 point mark this season, while the Rangers had 6. Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad -- two familiar names -- would've easily cracked that mark had they been healthy for most of the year. Yes, the Sens depth is improved compared to their in-season roster, but I would give the decisive edge to the Rangers.
Beata: New York. I am definitely more optimistic about the Sens' offense now than I was at the start of the playoffs. The scoring hasn't exactly been consistent, but it has picked its moments well. That said, there's no way the Sens' offense can match the Rangers'. With that lineup, and under AV's coaching, the Rangers are the better offensive team for sure.
B_T: Edge goes to New York. Ottawa probably has the better pure scorer in Hoffman, but the Rangers can roll 4 quality scoring lines.
Callum: This matchup is fairly close to me. While the Senators are fully healthy up front and that is giving them a gigantic boost, the Rangers' forward corps is well-balanced and structurally sound. But I'll take the group that is scoring right now and while Ottawa boasts two of the top four playoff scoring leaders, the Rangers leading scorer has four points through six games. Advantage: Senators.
Colin: The Rangers are plentiful with speedy young depth, which gives them the advantage in this category. They're like Ottawa in that they don't have the superstar up front, although every line of theirs can be a threat.
nkb: Ottawa's depth up front has dramatically improved in the last few months, but they're still no match for the Rangers' forward group. Sens fans may scoff, but even though someone like Kevin Hayes isn't exactly a household name he's an excellent player. Given the relative weakness of these two teams' defense, expect a lot of attacking hockey (much to Boucher's dismay) Advantage: NYR
Peter: Even. The Rangers had 44 more goals than Ottawa in the regular season, and the teams have been pretty well even so far in the post-season (Ottawa scored 15 on Tuukka Rask, New York put 14 past Carey Price). That said, Ottawa's regular season numbers didn't include much from the suddenly-resurgent Bobby Ryan, a luckier Derick Brassard, or the additions of Clarke MacArthur, Viktor Stalberg, and Alex Burrows. If Ryan and Brassard keep going and Burrows, Turris, and Stone get going, though, Ottawa should be able to carry the pace offensively.
Ross: Rangers. I realized from doing another mock expansion draft the the Rangers have so much young talent. Kreider, Miller, Zibanejad, Hayes, Pirri, Fast, Buchevnich, Vesey, Lindberg, (Puempel). That's a lot of talent that's 26 and under.
Trevor: Although New York does not have any true star forward, their depth up front is one of the best in the league. They can legitimately roll four lines and they all have the potential to score. Ottawa has certainly vastly improved their depth over the past few months, but the Rangers just have an overwhelming amount of forwards who can score. Rangers are better.
Staff Verdict: 8-1-1 Rangers
Which team has the offensive edge?
This poll is closed
Adnan: Ottawa. The Senators were very impressive in the first round to be able to take advantage of Boston's injuries. The Senators leaders in ice time among the forwards were Stone, Hoffman, Brassard and Turris. That is how it should be. Dan Girardi was second among the Rangers defencemen in ice time while Brandon Skjei was last, which is probably not optimal. The Rangers were outshot by four shots a game on average against the Canadiens and if that repeats, they are very unlikely to advance.
Ary: I'll say this about the coaching matchup: both AV and Boucher have gone deep in the playoffs before, so they've both been there. However, AV is more prone to making strange personnel decisions -- such as scratching Clendening and Buchnevich -- while although we complain about Boucher, the decisions we're talking about barely push the needle. The Sens can't afford to go into a shell in the third period against this squad, so how Boucher adjusts his NZ play to slow down the Rangers but still transition the puck up the ice will be key in determining the Senators' success in this series.
Beata: I think it's pretty even. I like Alain Vigneault, and I think it will be fascinating to see his more offensive-minded system go head-to-head with Boucher's trap. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Boucher, largely because of his ability to adapt to different situations.
B_T: With the way the Bruins were shut down, I’ve got to stick with Boucher on this one.
Callum: Blown leads are nothing to look past, as the Senators did not do a great job pushing the pace after scoring against the Bruins. Having said that, the way we saw a relentless forecheck stifle the Bruins' defense and a neutral zone trap that Boston had absolutely no answers for tells me Boucher out-coached Bruce Cassidy. Alain Vigneault rode a hot (in both meanings of the word) goalie through six games against Montreal, so Boucher has the upperhand once again in this matchup.
Colin: We saw how The System worked in round one. Advantage goes to Ottawa.
nkb: Guy Boucher has a slight edge over Alain Vigenault given the Rangers' coach propensity for giving ice-time to Tanner Glass and top pairing minutes to Girardi. Boucher's got his idiosyncrasies but he's by and large given the most ice time to his best players and that's the most important thing a coach can do. Advantage: OTT
Peter: Even. Through Round One, Ottawa managed to get several leads by putting the boots to Boston and giving their slow and injury-riddled roster fits with a quick-strike offence--but then we saw that once that lead was established, the team changed their style in an effort to protect it. On too many occasions, they weren't able to protect the lead, and that's shown one flaw in The System. If Boucher isn't willing to slightly tailor things on the fly through these playoffs and Ottawa continues to try to batten down the hatches once they go up by a goal, then the Sens could be in trouble against the more potent offence of the Rangers.
Ross: Senators. I think we saw in the Bruins series how Boucher is able to tailor his system to a specific team. The Bruins had an older, hurt defense corps, so the Sens used an aggressive forecheck to get in on them in a hurry. There were entire periods (the second of Game 1, the second of Game 6) where Boston could get nothing going. I think he'll outsmart AV and give Rags fans a chance to hate The System just like Bruins fans did.
Trevor: This one is really close for me. I saw how good of a coach AV was during his Vancouver days, and it's hard to doubt his ability given his long resume. At the same time, Guy Boucher has had an extremely successful rookie season in Ottawa. While I do trust the system, I have to go with the Rangers on this one due to Vigneault's experience and his ability to make New York a playoff team despite some horrific defensemen.
Staff Verdict: 8-1-1 Senators
Which team has the edge on the bench?
This poll is closed