THE STORY: The Ottawa Senators are officially on a losing streak, having dropped three straight after rattling off six wins in a row. It won’t be easy to stop the bleeding against this New York Rangers squad, either. Since choking away a three-goal, third period lead to the Senators on Oct. 29 and losing in a shootout, the Blueshirts have won every one of their four games. It appears Ottawa’s comeback poked the beast, and it’s looking dangerous right now.
THE SUBPLOTS: Well, this would have been an easy one if not for injuries. In the previously-mentioned game, Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski delivered a clear elbow to Daniel Alfredsson’s head, resulting in a concussion for the captain. While Alfredsson is making progress — he has been skating the past couple days — he’ll sit this one out. Wolski, who inexplicably escaped supplemental discipline from the NHL, won’t have to worry about retribution in this one, however. He won’t play after undergoing surgery to repair a groin injury. Karma, maybe?
THE WILDCARD: Craig Anderson, Senators. The last meeting between these two teams was like a wild west street battle, with each teams’ guns blazing at different times. It would be unwise to expect a repeat here. Henrik Lundqvist is normally trustworthy with a lead, so it’ll be up to Anderson to hold the fort until his colleagues can squeeze a goal or two past the King.
THE OPPONENT: Speaking of Lundqvist, stopping goals was never going to be the Rangers’ top concern this season — it would be putting them past the other team’s goalie. Well, the offence is waking up after adjusting to the insertion of Brad Richards into the lineup, climbing to 16th in the NHL at the moment. The Rangers have 15 tallies during their four-game winning streak.
THE QUOTE: “When I looked at the schedule at start of the year, I knew this was going to be a real tough stretch of games that could define how your season goes. It’s hard to play over .500 hockey on long road trips like that. To start it off with a win (Wednesday) would be huge for our team.” — Jason Spezza, on the prospect of playing nine of the 10 games after the Rangers tilt on the road.
THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Matt Carkner (knee), C Peter Regin (shoulder), RW Daniel Alfredsson (concussion). Rangers — D Marc Staal (concussion), C Mike Rupp (knee), Wojtek Wolski (groin).
THE PREDICTION: Well, we’re getting into mid-November, which means a couple of things. Some of the surprising teams in the early-going (Ottawa, Toronto, Colorado, etc.) are falling in line with expectations, while the talented underachievers (Boston, San Jose and the Rangers) are putting the pedal down. New York’s current surge, coupled with bad memories from the last outing between these two teams, should add up to a win for the Blueshirts. Senators 1, Rangers 2. (CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO THE REST OF OUR PREDICTION PANEL LIKES IN THIS ONE).