• By: Dave Gross

Start Spreading the News! Sens Advance to Round 2 Against New York!

Feature image courtesy of NHL.com

This Original 6 thing never gets old, does it?

Well folks that’s what lies ahead as the Ottawa Senators prepare to tackle a second consecutive of the ‘originals’ in Round 2 of the NHL playoffs.

After dispensing a depleted, but game, Boston Bruins club in six hand-wringing games, Ottawa sets its sights on the New York Rangers – two teams with a bit of recent playoff history given they met in 2012 with the New Yorkers squeaking out the series win in seven games.

The set is expected to start Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre but nothing was confirmed as of this writing.

For Johnny Senator Fan, best be prepared: New York is not Boston. This is no slam on the B’s who gave what they had in making the Ottawa series close. But when you’re missing your top offensive threat in David Krejci and your top defenceman in Torey Krug and reliable Adam McQuaid among others, it’s no surprise Ottawa came out on top.

Even prior to the slew of injuries, Boston was not a deep team.

New York is.

This is a mature, focussed bunch. Case in point, the Rangers led the NHL in road wins this season with 27 – a handy stat to have in hand given that the Senators hold home-ice advantage (although given the results of the opening round against Boston, it seems ‘advantage’ is a misnomer). The Rangers also won two on the road at the Bell Centre in the opening round in their defeat of Montreal. (The Bell Centre might just be the toughest road rink to succeed in).

Likely a hefty story-line will be the clash of Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard.

The two were swapped in the off-season for each other with the Rangers trading Brassard and a 2018 seventh-round pick for Zibanejad and a 2018 second-rounder.

Brassard, 29, slapped eight points up on the board for Ottawa in its six-game first-round victory.

The 24-year-old Zibanejad was an overtime hero in Game 5 scoring the game winning goal in Montreal and finished the six-game series with four points. He led his team in points.

It’s kind of a cutesy and convenient story-line, but not the real tale on how this series is going to be played out.

This will be about health and netminding.

The Bruins series was a slugfest (hey YOU try dumping the puck in Zdeno Chara’s corner and coming out alive) and Ottawa is visibly banged up. It’s a good thing GM Pierre Dorion added depth at the trade deadline, the Senators are going to need it.

First and foremost – Erik Karlsson.

He’s playing with two bad feet. If I am New York, I’m hitting him at every opportunity – and there’s no Matt Carkner around – this time – to ensure that does not happen.

It’s a formula that worked against Montreal in the opening round. The Rangers are big and can skate and they used that with great success against the Habs.

The play between the pipes will be key as well.

Let’s face it – King Henrik Lundqvist was not his usual royalty in the regular season. But against Montreal, the slick Swede sprung to life, posting a 1.70 goals-against average and sparkling .947 save percentage.

He was, and is expected to be, a difference-maker.

Conversely, Craig Anderson was generally exceptional in the regular season but was spotty at times against the Bruins. The frightening aspect for Ottawa is, Boston’s attack was limited; New York’s is not.

NHLI via Getty Images

NOTES AND NOTIONS: Don’t take me to Vegas: My ‘upset’ pick for the playoffs headed south in a hurry. So long Calgary. Ugh . . . Flames’ fans must be pining for the days of Miikka Kiprusoff – goaltending really cost them against the Ducks . . . I have to admit I couldn’t accurately name half of the guys wearing Pittsburgh Penguin sweaters this season (outside of the obvious and usual suspects), but the one thing the no-names have – an ability to wheel. Pens might just be the best skating team in the post-season . . . What to make of the Nashville Predators through an absolutely dominating sweep of everyone’s Stanley Cup favourites, the Chicago Blackhawks? Well, if Pekka Rinne continues his current run, you’re looking at a legit contender . . . The added rest – after the sweep – is good news for Rinne’s 34-year-old body . . . His stats so far? 0.70 goals-against average and a .976 save percentage . . . Meantime, it’s back to Square 1 in Buffalo with the firing of both coach and GM. With Jack Eichel already being questioned about his character, this could be another long rebuild.


Wednesday: Ottawa 1, Boston 0

Friday: Boston 3, Ottawa 2 (OT2)

Sunday: Ottawa 3, Boston 2 (OT)

Ottawa wins series 4-2


Schedule versus NY Rangers TBD (at press time)