National Post

Senators wary of Ranger danger.


- Bruce Garrioch bgarrioch@ postmedia. com Twitter: @ sungarrioc­h

Tin Ottawa he Ottawa Senators are tr ying desperatel­y to hold on to the underdog label. Hey, whatever works. It’s the playoffs.

Senators coach Guy Boucher continues to use that role as a rallying cry for his team heading into Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at the Canadian Tire Centre. But the Senators’ gutsy 2-1 victory in the series opener served notice they’re a force to be reckoned with here.

Following Thursday’s victory, Boucher told reporters his troops were motivated by not wanting to get “swept in four straight” by the Rangers. And as Ottawa players met with the media Friday afternoon after a video session with the coaching staff, they didn’t do anything to squash that sentiment. But does it really exist? “Oh, for sure. You look at ( the Rangers) and they’ve been good for a number of years,” said veteran Senators winger Alex Burrows. “Their window to win a Stanley Cup is right now and they have an opportunit­y right now to win the Cup. They’re not coming in just to play and see what happens.

“They really have the mindset that they have the team to do it and I do believe they have the team to do it. For us, ( on Thursday) we had some fear for sure playing them. We saw them play against Montreal ( in Round 1), the best team in our division, and they were able to win that series. We know what to expect. We know they’re great team but yes, we had some fear.”

There is no question the Senators are going to get strong pushback from the Rangers in Game 2. Don’t think for a second the Blueshirts will be discourage­d by the fact Ottawa struck first in this series — this is a group that’s composed led by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who’s been down this road before.

“We try to play as well as we can and we’re going to try to improve on certain things,” added Burrows. “We want to go out there and prove people wrong who have 10- 1 odds in Vegas ( to win the Cup).

“If we play hard and play to our identity, we can be successful or at least give ourselves a chance to win this series. That’s what we’re going to try to do ( Saturday). We’re expecting their best and we’ll try to give our best.”

The reality is, the Senators have only won one game and there’s no question plenty of work is still left to do before this series shifts to Madison Square Garden for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday. The Senators are coming off probably one of their best performanc­es of the post- season, but now they have to show consistenc­y.

“They’re a good team, so we’re just taking it one game at a time,” Senators winger Mark Stone said. “We want to win the next game. ( Thursday) we wanted to get off to a good start in the series and I thought we did that. We came (out) hard and I thought we played our game.

“When we play our game, win or lose, we feel good about it a little more after the game. You never go out not playing the way you’re supposed to play. We’re playing the way that has gotten us here now and we’ll see where it takes us.”

While Boucher was pleased with the fact the Senators fired 43 shots at Lundqvist, he maintained they have to keep that up. He also expects the Rangers are going to get their share of chances against Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson, who made 34 stops in Game 1.

“I don’t expect that we’re going to keep these guys under 20 shots and we got what we thought was going to happen; they got over 30 shots,” said Boucher. “Did we get more shots than we expected to get? Yeah, but that was our plan.

“We know that we can’t beat ( Lundqvist) with 20 shots, we can’t even beat him with 30 shots. We’re going to need 40 shots and above. Even with over 40 shots and so many high- end scoring chances, we only got two ( goals). That’s how it’s going to be. We expect them to come in with their best game so we should be ready for a major pushback.”

The Senators aren’t yet sure if they’ll make any lineup changes for Game 2. Winger Tom Pyatt has been cleared to return from his upper body injury he suffered on a check to the head by Bruins defenceman Kevan Miller in Game 4 of their first-round series, but Boucher didn’t sound like he wanted to go that route.

“Everybody is doing a good job, it’s hard to take guys out,” said Boucher. “Right now, it’s the fact everybody has done a good job the last two games, I don’t see the urgency to mess with that.” For full NHL playoff results visit nationalpo­

 ?? JEAN LEVAC / POSTMEDIA NEWS ?? Senators goaltender Craig Anderson put the stops on Michael Grabner and the Rangers on Thursday night.
JEAN LEVAC / POSTMEDIA NEWS Senators goaltender Craig Anderson put the stops on Michael Grabner and the Rangers on Thursday night.

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