After looking like the Ottawa Senators rattled the New York Rangers with their spectacular comeback in Game 2, they now see themselves in a 2-2 series tie thanks to two 4-1 demolitions at Madison Square Garden. Even the analytics can’t save Guy Boucher’s men as they should have been outscored 6.5-2.9 while adjusting for score-affects according to corsica.hockey. That is definitely in stark contrast in comparison to the both teams expected to create 7.1 adjusted goals each in the first two games.
Two factors have really turned the series in the Rangers’ favor. The first is the massive increase in their shot quality. While they have only out-attempted the Senators all series 216.8-199.6 at even strength, its the scoring chances and attempts from high definition scoring areas where New York is flat-out dominating. In those two respective categories after adjustment, the Rangers are leading them 108.0-78.7 and 50.8-30.9 respectively. In fact, the Blueshirts haven’t even allowed the Senators to record more than six adjusted high definition chances at even strength in their two home games while dominating in this department 28.0-11.7!!!!
Along with that, the Rangers have been able to draw more power play opportunities than the Senators this series 16-13, including 8-5 the last two games. While New York has only converted twice in their 16 opportunities, only Anaheim and Nashville have generated more than their 120.9 shot attempts per hour on the power play this second round. Along with that, they have put two short handed tallies in game two and have continued to be an utter nuisance to Ottawa’s power play by generating a league best 21.2 attempts per hour. This comes as no surprise as long as you have followed Alain Vigenault’s tenure in Manhattan, but the domination in comparison to the rest of the NHL is something to behold.
For the Senators, they needed over 22 minutes of magic from Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Erik Karlsson being his normal self to give themselves a 2-0 lead. That is not to say that Pageau has been invisible the rest of the series as evidenced by his team-leading 15 shots on goal in these four games, but we can all agree that his four goals in four shots that magical night is very difficult to replicate on any night, let alone him. Not only that, but yes, Pageau is a somewhat overrated hockey player.
It’s been quite amazing to see that he has actually averaged about 13 minutes of even strength ice time the last two seasons and his 31 goals and 76 points during that span are not to laugh about. Still, Pageu’s forward linemates that have played 10% or more of his even strength minutes during these last years have been Tom Pyatt, Zach Smith, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Alex Chiasson, Curtis Lazar and a past-his-prime Milan Michalek. Stone and Hoffman have been the lone exceptions to an otherwise talent-less rule, but evidence is there that the two skilled forwards prop up Pageau more than have Pageau help them. That has led to the 24-year old hometown hero to only have 46.8% of his unadjusted shot attempts go in his favor. So even if he were to be a good offensive point-getter, other parts of his game are preventing him from being a real contributing member to any NHL team that may ever want him, let alone the Ottawa Senators.
Kyle Turris simply hasn’t had a good enough series as him and linemates Ryan Dzingle and Alex Burrows look poorly constructed to handle any top six line the Rangers can deploy. If anything, it’s been the Derek Stepan-Rick Nash-Jimmy Vesey line that has terrorized the Senators by being on the ice for over 70 attempts per hour going their way. Lastly, we need to talk about Tanner Glass.
Remember, his puck possession prowess is nicknamed the “Glass Ceiling” for a reason and despite his three assists in two games, he is still living by that horrifying reputation. In this series, he has seen only 35.8% of his teams shot attempts go in their favor. Do not, under any circumstances, leave this postseason thinking he’s a good hockey player in any stretch of the imagination. Everything that he has done this past month is about as fluky as you are going to see. He has never exceeded five goals and 16 points in any season for a reason and he still only has six points in 65 career postseason games. This dude still struggles to even get 10 minutes of ALL-SITUATIONS time on ice per game at this time of year!!!! Vigenault is not thinking this dude has the hot hand for a reason. And yet he continues to play him instead of Pavel Buchnevich.
Who knows, maybe the 2017 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins will finally punish Vigenault for playing him so much. Until then, let the Rangers continue to feast on overrated competition while a certain team this writer loves has to face the toughest for the second straight postseason.