Given their place in the standings it may concern you to hear that the Ottawa Senators have already reached the end of the first quarter of the regular season but at least they have some games in hand and plenty of time to make up lost ground? And maybe just maybe we'll get to see something closely resembling an optimal lineup (Shane Pinto notwithstanding) as Ridly Greig appears ready to return. As you already know, the Sens won their last game, over Seattle, thanks to a shutout performance courtesy of Anton Forsberg.
The Rangers meanwhile last played on Sunday and enjoyed (?) an uncomfortable 6-5 win over the Sharks in Manhattan. A cursory glance at the standings and you'll see the Rangers have emerged as early favourites to win their division with a healthy lead over the Hurricanes. As we'll see, they have star power that can stack up against any team in the league but in the salary cap era this also means some questionable depth up front (something Sens fans suddenly know a lot about!).
- You can't talk about the Rangers and not mention the fact that they get very good goaltending from Igor Shesterkin and a resurgent Jonathan Quick. The Sens keep tricking me into thinking the goalies have things figured out but I'd really love to see either (or both of) Forsgberg / Joonas Korpisalo string together multiple good starts.
- At five-on-five, the Sens have fallen on hard times in terms of shot generation and to a lesser extent suppression, and have stayed somewhat alive thanks to even strength shooting luck (but no goaltending luck). By no means would I call the Rangers a bad team at five-on-five but they really make their hay so to speak on special teams (while getting just enough at even strength).
- On the powerplay, the Rangers don't generate that many more chances than the Sens but they finish at an elite rate (about twice as well as Ottawa to date). On the penalty kill, again the Rangers don't suppress shots that much better than the Sens but New York gets elite shorthanded goaltending and Ottawa's goalies have struggled mightily on the PK so far this year.
- On the injured list (knock on the biggest piece of wood you can find) only Mark Kastelic remains sidelined at the NHL level for the Sens. The Rangers have missed the services of two of their better middle-six forwards in Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko (great names too).
- Update: Somebody didn't knock on wood fast enough - Thomas Chabot will be getting a MRI today, and is unavailable for the game.
Where to watch/listen: TSN5, RDS, TSN1200 @ 7PM EST
Lines from Last Game
Tarasenko - Stützle - Batherson
Kubalik - Grieg - Joseph
Kelly - Chartier - MacEwen
Chychrun - Hamonic
Sanderson - Bernard-Docker
New York Rangers
Kreider - Zibanejad - Brodzinski
Cuylle - Bonino - Wheeler
Vesey - Goodrow - Pitlick
Lindgren - Fox
Miller - Trouba
Gustafsson - Schneider