The New York Rangers will look to avoid playing down to their opponent as they did against these same Senators on Sunday in their embarrassing 3-1 loss. You should expect that with the past three days off the team will come out with a lot more fire than the narcolepsy that was the first on Sunday. This game is crucial with the tough six game stretch the Rangers begin following this one and with their struggles against the better teams they need to collect all the points against this quality of opponent as they can. The Rangers excellent road record of 10-4 should give the team and fans some confidence that they will play the same style of game on the road they normally have. A game like this against a team you should beat coming off a lousy performance is one where you expect your stars to step up so the weight and eyes on Marian Gaborik will be even higher tomorrow as this is what he is paid to do.
New York (16-12-1) at Ottawa Senators (12-15-2)
Key Opposition Player: Daniel Alfredsson (8-10-18)
Ruslan Fedotenko - Derek Stepan– Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery – Brian Boyle – Brandon Prust
Alex Frolov– Erik Christensen –Derek Boogaard
Marc Staal -Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto – Michal Rozsival
Steve Eminger – Michael Sauer
The Rangers have once again changed their lines; I know it is shocking so take a moment to recover. Derek Stepan will be on the top line with Marian Gaborik and Ruslan Fedotenko while Artem Anisimov moves back to the homegrown line with Dubinsky and Callahan. The man dropped most in the lineup is Erik Christensen but Torts will find some excuse to move him back up. The Stepan, Gaborik combination has shown flashes in their time together and hopefully we will get an extended look at it to see what they can truly do together. Fedotenko should provide his usual jam and cycle ability to the line and we will see what comes out of the experiment.
The reuniting of Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Callahan will look to reignite the spark all three of them had earlier in the season when that line was carrying the offense as opposed to the slumps all three are currently in when it comes to depositing the puck in the net. Each of these three needs to stop deferring to the presence of Marian Gaborik in the lineup and play their game as they were when they carried this team in his absence. That is true of none more than Brandon Dubinsky who has taken his game from rising to All-Star level to deferring as if he is a third liner just happy to share the locker room with the guy on many nights. It is time for Dubinsky to talk less to the media about guys from the other team and go back to putting his imprint squarely on the scoreboard where he will do more damage to them.
The Rangers are also looking to kick start their power play which has been suspect to say the least as they spent half of today’s practice on it. I still do not like Stepan on the point as I think there are better positions for him as I laid out in what I would do with the powerplay. Stepan has done a good job and is getting more comfortable there but the key to the ineffectiveness of the power play right now is the indecisiveness of their star. Gaborik has to know what he wants to do and from there if his mentality is aggressive it will be for the rest of the unit.
No word yet on who will start for the Rangers and the assumption will be Henrik but I have to wonder if there is an urgency to get Biron back in there to get the Islanders game out of his head. Note to the Rangers defense would be stop Chris Kelly.
Prediction: Rangers 3-2