Ottawa Senators (32-30-14) at New York Rangers (43-30-5)
|Date & Time||Saturday April 5, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: New York Rangers -205 / Ottawa Senators +186 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Just two points are between the New York Rangers and clinching a playoff berth and the Blueshirts will look to lock that up with a victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. The Rangers return home after a western Canada swing that had them finish their four game road trip in Colorado. It started with a disappointing loss to the Calgary Flames but the Rangers bounced back by outscoring the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks by a combined score of 8-1. Thursday night New York was looking to make it three wins out of four on the trip but they came up just short in Colorado against the Avalanche. The Rangers played a very solid road game and John Moore returned to the lineup replacing the injured Ryan McDonagh and got New York on the board early in the first with a blast from the point that beat Semyon Varlamov. Colorado would eventually tie the game but New York grabbed the lead back on a gold from Derek Stepan. The young center is really hitting his stride of late and the Rangers going to need him to really help elevate them down the middle. New York has a very good defense corps, they've got a world class goaltender, and they've got four lines that can all play. Their weakness come the playoffs will be whether or not they have enough at the center position to compete with teams like Boston and Pittsburgh. Stepan continuing to elevate his play will go a big way toward this hockey club having a chance of making a serious run. The Rangers will also need Derick Brassard and Brad Richards to step up if they want to have a chance. Right now Dominic Moore is the only center on the club that can be counted on in the faceoff dot, and that's something that becomes even more imporant come playoff time. As long as the Rangers don't stumble they should be hosting a first round series against either the Flyers or Blue Jackets. Those are both clubs that New York should be able to handle, but if they don't do the little things down the middle they could be in trouble.
The Ottawa Senators come to town all but eliminated from playoff contention in a season that everyone involved in this organization wishes they could forget. The acqusition of Bobby Ryan in the offseason didn't have the desired effects and this team truly struggled fom the very start. Friday night they were embarrassed on their home ice by the rival Montreal Canadiens in a game that saw them allow one goal after another. It has been a common theme for the Senators this season as they've really struggled defensively all year long. Ottawa jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Canadiens in the first period but they couldn't even hold the lead through the remainder of the first period. In the end the Senators watched as the Canadiens scored seven consecutive goals to rebound from a three goal deficit and embarrass them on their home ice. It has been a year to forget for this club and for Craig Andersen who has just not had the type of season this team was expecting heading into the year. It will be interesting to see if the Senators can get up for this game after such an embarrassing effort on Friday night. This is the type of game that shows if players have pride or if they're just counting the days until their season finally comes to an end.
New York is a heavy favorite in this one and for good reason considering the way these teams have been playing. The problem is that the money line is too rich and trusting the Rangers to beat anyone by more than a goal on home ice is always dicey. There could be a few goals scored in this one with the Ottawa plays defense however and look for New York to find a way to lock up that playoff berth.