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Senators prepared for faster game against Rangers

Ottawa believes sticking to structure, playing with speed can work against New York in second round

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot was asked about his biggest concern with playing the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Second Round, which starts Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"They've got a lot of speed," he said.

Speed was something the Senators didn't see a lot of in the first round against the Boston Bruins, which they won in six games.

But against the Rangers they'll have to deal with the speed, and lots of it.

"They play a high-paced style of play and they like to move the puck quick and they like to get the puck to the net as quick as possible," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "That's going to be a challenge for us and something that we're going to have to be prepared for and something that we are prepared for.

"We played them lots over the course of the year and we know their team well, we know their players well, and we're going to do everything we can to be as prepared as possible to do the things that we want to do to be successful."

That includes slowing the Rangers, who use their speed to flummox teams, either by creating scoring chances or drawing penalties. That's a trap the Senators know they can't fall into. Their focus is sticking to the strict defensive system installed by coach Guy Boucher that has been the root of their success this season.

Video: The guys look forward to Rangers vs. Senators matchup

The Senators' goal is to clog the neutral zone. They may need to continue with that structure against the Rangers to give themselves a chance to win the series. They were able to do it during the regular season when they went 2-1-0 against the Rangers.

"They love to do those fast breaks where the [defenseman] will stretch us and look for that stretch pass to a guy maybe cherry-picking a little bit or looking for that little break behind the [defenseman]," Methot said. "They're very good at it, and they get a lot of opportunities that way off rushes sometimes, so it's something that you've got to be aware of when you're defending."

In the first round, the Senators relied heavily on their top two defense pairs, Methot and Karlsson and Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci. They may not be able to do that in the same way against the Rangers because of New York's ability to roll four lines that can score.

While the Senators focus on slowing the Rangers, they also know they need to get up and down the ice, notably Karlsson. The Senators' best path to slowing the Rangers could be using their own speed and quickness.

"We want to play fast as well," Karlsson said. "We want to move the puck as quickly as possible up the ice. They're going to try and do the same things, so it's going to be the same for both teams and hopefully we can get our legs going early in the game and just have that translate into the rest of the game."

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