Friday, May 5, 2017

Karlsson Expected to Play Game 5 vs. Rangers

Erik Karlsson has been run ragged by the New York Rangers' physicality in the last two games, but the defenseman is reportedy set to go for Game 5 of the Rangers-Senators, scheduled for Saturday afernoon.

Karlsson, playing with two hairline fractures in his left foot, was seen favoring that leg as he skated off the ice after the second period of Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.

Senators head coach Guy Boucher says that he kept the Swede out of the third period for precautionary reasons, and that he plans to use him for Game 5.

Karlsson had a good start against the Rangers. In each of the first two games the Rangers did not score against Ottawa when the teams were at 5-on-5. Karlsson was on ice for two even strength goals, including the Game 1 winner that he himself scored.

However, Karlsson has gone minus-4 in the last two games as he saw his ice time limited to 23:42 in Game 3 and 14:54 in Game 4.

It all spells big trouble for the Senators, who have seen a two-game lead disappear against the surging Rangers. The Senators are a negative possession team without Karlsson on the ice. So far in the playoffs the Senators own a 47.6 CF% at 5-on-5 when Karlsson is on the bench, and they own a 56 CF% with him on the ice. Their team shooting percentage is higher (8 percent vs. 4.64 percent) with him on the ice and their team save percentage (.930 vs. .926) is higher with him on the ice.

But if he is laboring so much that he's ineffective, things will go from bad to worse for the Senators. They've been outscored 8-2 in the last two games and are desperately in need of some energy from someone, or this series could be over fast.

The Rangers have ramped up their intensity and dominated the two games at Madison Square Garden from start to finish. The Rangers have now won four games in a row at home this post-season after snapping a six-game home playoff losing streak in Game 4 of their first-round series against Montreal.

Oscar Lindberg and Tanner Glass were two of the Rangers best players on fourth line along with J.T. Miller. Glass and Lindberg (three goals) had three points each over the last two games; Miller had two.

Teams that win Game 5 best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series have won the series 78.9 percent of the time in league history, per Hockey-Reference.