First round series breakdown: Rangers (1) vs. Senators (8)
But where the Rangers strengths mostly lie is in their ability to shut down opposing offenses, holding them to a conference-leading 2.22 goals per game. That shining number is not all due to the sterling play of All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist, a leading candidate for the Vezina this season, but to a defensive mindset that permeates the entire team. It's not only New York's defensemen who block shots, obstruct passing lanes and clear rebounds night in and night out -- though stalwarts like Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are among the league's best shutdown blueliners.
But New York's defense will be put to the test against the potent Senators attack. Ottawa's fourth-ranked offense is led by center Jason Spezza and winger Milan Michalek, who have each victimized the Rangers four times this season. Their speed can put the Blueshirts back on their heels. The Senators also have a resiliency that's evidenced in the 102 third period goals they scored this season, third-most in the league. Goalie Craig Anderson has been considerably better on the road than at home (2.68 GAA vs. 3.02 at home), so starting in the intimidating Madison Square Garden might be a blessing in disguise for Ottawa.