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Playoff preview: (1) Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
The Sens were 3-1-0 this season against the top-seeded Blueshirts. (Getty Images)

Everything is magnified in New York, it really is. In all honesty, it hasn't been that long since the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup. They hoisted more recently than any of the team's from Canada. Ask Rangers fans and they'll make it seem like 1994 was two centuries ago.

“This team here, the New York Rangers, can beat anybody in this league,” coach John Tortorella said this week.

For the first time since that magical summer in New York, the expectations are high. That comes with the territory of being the East's No. 1 seed, something they were for the majority of the season.

Speaking of expectations, the Senators had none this season. None at all. Well, unless you consider being predicted to finish last as an expectation to fail. Then yes, they had expectations.

It was an unforeseen run for Ottawa this season, grabbing a playoff spot and holding onto it all season long. They really struggled to close out the season, falling to eighth in the standings and setting up this first-round date. You get the sense that that's OK, it feels kind of like playing with the house's money and letting it ride, see where it takes you.

Of the matchups that the Sens could have drawn, likely either New York or Boston, this one seems rather favorable for them. The Senators actually took three of the four meetings from the Blueshirts this season, one by way of a shootout.

NYR offense vs. OTT defense

When you think of the Rangers you don't think offense. However they were 11th in the league this season in goals and possess a lot of speed up front, starting with the league's third-leading goal scorer Marian Gaborik. It has a little more power than its reputation would have you believe.

The Senators definitely have their weakness in the back end. On the season they were 24th in goals against, the lowest among all playoff teams with 2.88 goals against per game. As a group they do produce a bit more offensively, Erik Karlsson serving as the prime example.

OTT offense vs. NYR defense

The offense is where the Senators make their money. With 2.96 goals per game, they were the fourth-most prolific offense this season. The trio of Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson is one of the best in the game. Add in Karlsson from the blue line and you have 47.3 percent of the goals from those four.

But the defense is where the Rangers excel, too. Only the Blues and Kings were stingier than the Rangers this season. This is where the team prides itself, blocking shots is something the actually love to do, Dan Girardi being the poster boy, finishing fifth in the NHL this season.

Goaltending

Here we have a mismatch. It's tough to find any series the Rangers are in that they won't have an edge in this department, Henrik Lundqvist is arguably the best in the game today. The one bug-a-boo? He has struggled in the playoffs in the past, his playoff save percentage 11 points lower than his career mark.

Anderson was good enough for the Sens this season, but he won't be confused for a Vezina candidate. In his one stint in the playoffs two seasons ago with the Avs, though, he couldn't shoulder much blame. He posted a .933 save percentage.

Special teams

As you'd expect, the Senators have the power-play edge while the Rangers are much better on the kill. In the end they wash each other out. With that trio listed above plus Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar, perhaps the Sens' 11th-ranked unit even seems low. The Rangers struggled all season, finishing 23rd on the man up.

But of course on the kill the Rangers were very solid, clocking in at fifth in the league, percentage wise. The Senators meanwhile finished 20th in the league by killing 81.6 percent of penalties.

Prediction

In spite of the Sens' success this season against the Rangers ...

More from Eye on Hockey

Reports: Rangers sign Kreider
Richards looking to win Cup again, now in New York

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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