Bruins-Rangers Series Preview

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Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern Conference Semi-Finals (Round 2)

The Matchup: #4 Boston Bruins vs. #6 New York Rangers

Series Schedule:

Game 1- Thur, May 16 7:30P PM @ Boston

Game 2- Sun, May 19 7:30 PM @ Boston

Game 3- Tue, May 21 7:30 PM @ New York

Game 4- Thur, May 23 7:30 PM @ New York

Game 5-Sat, May 25 TBD @ Boston

Game 6- Mon, May 27 TBD @ New York

Game-7 Wed, May 29 TBD @ Boston

Regular Season Meetings:

January 19- Bruins defeat Rangers 3-1

January 23- Rangers defeat Bruins 4-3 in OT

February 12- Rangers defeat Bruins 4-3 in SO

The Need to Know:

These two Original Six foes will be hooking up in the playoffs for the first time since 1973. The Bruins have beaten the Rangers in 6 out of 9 postseason series. Both clubs are strikingly similar and play a gritty, physical, defensive brand of hockey. Each side earned four points apiece in head-to-head meetings during the regular season.

The Rangers started off the season uncharacteristically slow. For much of the year it looked as if their playoff hopes were doubtful due to disappointing play. New York got it together following a blockbuster trade deadline deal that sent superstar Marian Gaborik to Columbus. They finished the regular season second in the Atlantic Division, posting a 26-18-4 record.

Both Boston and New York are coming off opening round seven game series. Henrik Lundqvist posted back-to-back shutouts on the way to knocking out Washington. And for the Bruins, well, they just made NHL history in eliminating Toronto. These are two Eastern Conference heavyweights that many pegged to win the cup prior to the beginning of the season.

Scoring will be at a premium, as defensive minded guys coach both teams. Claude Julien of the Bruins is well renowned for his effectiveness in teaching a defense first mentality. John Tortorella preaches shot blocking and the sacrifice on the defensive end. Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist are a couple of the best goalies in the business.

The Boston Forwards:

The Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line leads the Bruins. The trio makes for the perfect combination of punishing size, relentless determination, smart hockey instinct, wise decision making, and elite scoring ability. They combined for 29 points against the Leafs, led by Krejci’s 5 goals and 8 assists. Lucic added 2 goals and 7 assists while Horton notched 4 goals and 3 assists.

Patrice Bergeron, flanked by Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand are always a threat. Bergeron is coming off a three goal series that included a game tying and game winning score in game 7 against Toronto. Seguin and Marchand have struggled but have also show signs of turning things around.

Chris Kelly generally centers Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr. Jagr’s offensive threat is a given while Kelly and Peverley provide great defensive play. Boston’s merlot line of Daniel Paille, Greg Campell, and Shawn Thornton is arguably one of the Bruins most important lines given the vitally important energy they provide.

The New York Forwards:

The Rangers tend to mix and match their lines more so than the Bruins. Rick Nash and Brad Richards lead them offensively. Though they both struggled in the opening round, only combining for 3 points. Their explosiveness cannot be overlooked by any means. In order to succeed, New York needs top end production from them.

Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, and Taylor Pyatt have been one of the more consistent lines for the Rangers. They serve as a solid checking line that plays with a gritty edge. Their fore checking energy creates chances for the Rangers.

Rangers captain Ryan Callahan generally skates alongside Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. This line can play a two way game and score the puck if given space. They seem to get the nod as the Rangers top line.

Derek Brassard led the Rangers in scoring against the Capitals in round 1, pitching in 2 goals and 9 assists. Veteran Aaron Asham serves as one of the Ranger tough guys and brings some useful experience.

The Boston Defense:

Boston in banged up along the blue-line. Andrew Ference is suffering from a foot injury, as he was spotted on crutches in a walking boot. Wade Redden has been out, labeled with an undisclosed injury. Though the Bruins biggest issue is Dennis Seidenberg. He was hurt in the Bruins game 7 win on Monday and left early in the first. His toughness and talents will surely be missed if he is unable to go, considering he logs top line minutes alongside Zdeno Chara and is a shutdown guy.

Zdeno Chara is still there for Boston and he is a game changer by himself. His size allows him to cover a ton of ground poising a nightmare for opposing forwards. Chara posted 8 points on 1 goal and 7 assists against Toronto. Johnny Boychuk will likely flank him in game 1.

Matt Bartkowski showed his abilities, moving and scoring the puck in game 7 against Toronto. He has impressed and could utilize his speed against New York. Dougie Hamilton is a similar player only a bit more talented. His offensive prowess should help the Bruins crack the methodical defense played by the Rangers.

Adam McQuaid is a bruiser and could see an increased role because of his experience and the injuries. He will have to play big and be called upon more frequently. Aaron Johnson is also on the roster along with Torrey Krug.

Claude Julien has some juggling to do with his d-corps.

The New York Defense:

The Ranger defense is on a roll allowing no goals in its last two contests. Their top defenseman Marc Staal is questionable at best for the series as he is still recovering from an eye injury suffered after getting hit by a puck back on March 5. He played in one game against the Caps.

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Giardi are the Rangers go to guys. They both play upwards of twenty-five minutes a game and are very physical. They block a ton of shots and make things very difficult for opposing forwards. They held Alex Ovechkin scoreless in the final 5 games of their opening round series.

Michael Del Zotto plays alongside Anton Stralman and John Moore is paired with Steve Eminger. Now these grouping have not been permanent, but Tortorella has been using them like that for a little bit now.

Del Zotto can score the puck a little while Stralman logs minutes and likes to lay the lumber with some big hits.

The Goaltending:

Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lunqvist are both elite goaltenders and Vezina worthy candidates. They are both key reasons why their clubs endure great success and were integral in helping them get out of the opening round.

Rask made a number of timely saves, helping to keep the Boston hopes alive. He must continue to do that in a series that figures to be airtight. Lundqvist has the ability to steal a game at will. He did that against Washington, being left with a slim margin for error. Look for the two to feed off of one another.

Rask was 4-3 with a 2.49 GAA, posting a .923 SV% against Toronto.

Lundqvist was 4-3 as well with a 1.65 GAA, posting a .947 SV% against Washington.

X-Factors:

For Boston it’s Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. Boston’s first line has established themselves and look to be rolling at this point. Still the Bruins will need all the scoring it can get. Seguin and Marchand have elite ability and must show it. The two wingers are shifty and skate with great speed.

For New York it’s Rick Nash. Nash is arguably the best offensive talent in this series. He struggled against the Washington because of smothering coverage. Zdeno Chara figures to be on the ice when he is and Nash will have to dig deep because the Rangers need him if they hope to win.

My Prediction:

Bruins win it in a seven game dogfight. This series will be brutal, bloody, and physical. I give the edge to Boston because of the heart they showed in winning their last series. It was special and can potentially instill them with the confidence needed to assemble a deep run. When the Bruins pull of magical things they tend to string them together. Boston seems focused, determined, and driven.

Frank O’Laughlin – NHL Contributor – TitleTown Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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