Rangers visit troubled Senators in classic trap game

Artemiy Panarin looks to keep it going with Jacob Trouba at Ottawa. AP Photo by Mary Altaffer via Getty Images

In about an hour from now, the Rangers and Senators will face off from Ottawa in Kanata, Ontario. The name of the arena they still play in is called the Canadian Tire Centre. Maybe it should be renamed Canadian Tire Fire.

That’s only due to probably the worst NHL owner in Eugene Melnyk. If you haven’t read New York Post Rangers beat writer Brett Cyrgalis’s scathing column, please do yourself a favor and read it. It really hits home on the big issue with the Senators.

When you think about where Ottawa was in the 2017 Playoffs, it’s sad. They were that close to beating the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pens in a seven game Eastern Conference Final. That was then. This is now.

Star players Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone are long gone along with quite a few other former Sens including since we’ll traveled Derick Brassard (now with Islanders). It’s strange. Craig Anderson remains the number one goalie. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who’s best known for tormenting the Rangers to basically end the AV Era, is still there. So is Bobby Ryan and Mark Borowiecki.

The Senators roster is considered by most pundits to be the worst in the league. They do boast promising young players such as budding power forward Brady Tkachuk and top defenseman Thomas Chabot. But it’s a long climb back. It’ll be up to those two along with Colin White and Erik Brannstrom to determine the club’s future.

They also have Anthony Duclair. Yes. That Duclair, who once was a top prospect for the Rangers before getting packaged to the Coyotes for Keith Yandle. Since, he’s moved on from Arizona to the Blackhawks to the Blue Jackets to now his fifth organization in Ottawa. Hopefully, he’ll stick.

So, it should be a piece of cake for the new look Blueshirts featuring Artemiy Panarin, Jacob Trouba and Kaapo Kakko with Alexandar Georgiev starting? Not so quick. One thing about Ottawa. They beat the Rangers two of three last year and haven’t lost at home to them since Nov. 14, 2015 with New York prevailing in a shootout 2-1.

It’s also worth noting that the Senators lead the all-time series with a 50-38-3-4 record. They actually do better at MSG where they’re a perplexing 28-17-0-2. Ottawa is 22-21-3-2 at home vs the Rangers.

It is the Senators home opener. They lost on Opening Night to the Maple Leafs 5-3. It was all downhill after Tkachuk scored his first in the opening shift. Toronto got five of the next six goals. They can do that to almost anyone and will. They’re 2-0-0 already after overwhelming the Blue Jackets last night.

The Rangers are not making any lineup changes. Only tweaks to the blueline which struggled in a 6-4 home victory over Winnipeg on Thursday. In particular, Brady Skjei and Libor Hajek. So, Skjei-Trouba is broken up for now. That could change. Coach David Quinn has decided to go with Skjei and Adam Fox while trying Hajek with Trouba to help the rookie. Marc Staal and Tony DeAngelo remain intact.

Brendan Smith will continue to play on the fourth line as Quinn promises to find more ice time for Lias Andersson, who didn’t have a particularly good start after tripping on a cord during intros.

It’s a classic trap game for a young team that’s still in the early stages. It wouldn’t be surprising if they lose. Hopefully, they can avoid the Ottawa trap.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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