Rangers: 3 keys to beating the Ottawa Senators

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the third period at Prudential Center
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are set to take on the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night following a day-long break after beating the San Jose Sharks. Things seem to be going very well for the league-leading Blueshirts, and they will look to improve their 18-4-1 record as the NHL’s best team.

While the Rangers may be the favorites to win tomorrow night’s matchup, this game can not be handled any differently than the rest. Inconsistency has been a major issue for the Blueshirts as of late, but they’ve managed to stay in the win column due to their immense skill. If all goes well, the Rangers should hopefully earn another victory as the season progresses.

1. Laviolette keeps the lineup intact

There have been very few line changes made by HC Peter Laviolette this season. There have been some major alterations due to injuries, but other than that, he’s been sticking to what works for the most part. There was one major change recently, however, which saw Blake Wheeler demoted back to the third line in favor of Jonny Brodzinski.

This new first line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Brodzinski needs to remain intact tomorrow night. It found success multiple times in the offensive zone last night against the Sharks, with all three players combining for five points in the win. Laviolette tends to stick to leave lines intact if they are producing, and he should stick to that ideology tomorrow night.

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2. The defense remains consistent for a full 60 minutes

The Rangers have had some trouble beating lesser-skilled teams as of late. Multiple one-goal wins over non-playoff teams seem to be a new trend, and it needs to be stopped immediately. For one reason or another, the Rangers just can’t seem to keep their defensive skills intact for an entire game.

The Senators are another team who are not currently in a playoff position. It’s imperative that the Blueshirts do not play down to their opponent, and stay defensively sound for the full 60 minutes of play.

3. The Rangers’ goaltenders don’t let in any soft goals

While it is still unknown which goaltender will be getting the nod in net tomorrow night, it’s likely that Igor Shesterkin will receive the start after Jonathan Quick played yesterday. Both goalies have been solid to start the year, but both have also been iffy in some games as well.

Shesterkin is undeniably having a bit of a down year this season. He’s still managed to acquire 10 wins in his first 14 starts, but his GAA and SV% statistics are worse than what fans are used to seeing. Although the Rangers’ offensive corps is more skilled than Ottawa’s, the Senators still possess some elite forward depth that has the potential to score quite a bit if Shesterkin or Quick are not on their A-game.