The New York Rangers probably expected to face either the Florida Panthers or Washington Capitals in the first round, yet a busy Saturday shuffled things in interesting ways. They’ll instead face the eighth seed Ottawa Senators thanks in part to the Blueshirts’ decisive 4-1 loss to the Caps and Ottawa’s own 4-2 defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils.
It’s an interesting strength vs. strength (and perhaps weakness vs. weakness?) matchup. The Rangers have a great defensive system and an even better goalie in Henrik Lundqvist while Ottawa’s high-powered offense features Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek.
This should also be a showcase of Jack Adams-worthy candidates as fiery John Tortorella hopes to ward off Detroit Red Wings coaching tree product (and wonderfully moustachioed) bench boss Paul MacLean.
The Rangers are likely to be heavy favorites in this one, but chew on this: the Senators took three out of four games in the season series. Is that enough to sway your vote or should the Rangers advance as heavy favorites?
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: