Yesterday, we looked at a Bruins fan’s perspective on the second round matchup, today we give you Rangerface’s take on it.
In Googs’ preview, he called the Bruins a “Jekyll and Hyde team,” and that is pretty ironic as we have been calling the Rangers a “bi-polar team” all season.
Both teams come into this series on highs coming off huge Game 7 wins under very different circumstances. The B’s come in with probably more of a sense of relief. Blowing a 3-1 lead in the series, they nearly choked in their Game 7 before their miracle comeback in the games final nine minutes.
The Rangers come in on a different type of high. After (hopefully) finally finding their game, the Rangers dominated the Caps in their Game 7, discovering an offense along the way. Scoring 4+ goals in three of their last five games. They also ride the Henrik Lundqvist wave as the King has been resplendent, pitching back to back shutouts in the biggest games of the year. They are also keenly aware that they dispatched the Caps without a peep from their big gun Rick Nash.
However all that goes out the window when the puck drops for Game 1.
John Tortorella (our favorite all time coach) has been preaching a “one game at a time” mentality with the Blueshirts in these playoffs. And the Rangers will need that in this series. Especially in game 1.
The Bruins are very balanced up front. Their top line of Milan Lucic, David Krecji and Nathan Horton is two huge bruisers flanking a very skilled center man. Lucic is an animal (remember the un-penalitized, un-answered elbow smash to Nash earlier in he year that concussed #61?) and the Ranger’s have no physical answer for him. If he is allowed to run roughshod over the Ranger D and Hank, they’ll be in trouble. Their advanced scouts, no doubt watched Hank’s brilliance and concluded that the only way to beat the King will be with re-directions, crisp passing and traffic. THe King may get bumped a bit by the big, bad, B’s as well. Krecji, the playoff scoring leader, is a gifted center, who is very underrated and very dangerous.
Another very underrated is Patrice Bergeron. If Bergeron isn’t the best two way player in hockey, he definitely is in the East and in this series. The guy is good at everything, face-0ffs, back checking, PK and scoring. He is winged by super-pest, Nose Face Killah, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Like the Rangers this line may be as good as the first line and is a constant threat to score.
Trade deadline pickup and ex-Ranger Jaromir Jagr is parked on the third line with pluggers Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly. At 41, Jagr is essentially a power play specialist for a power play that hasn’t been exactly special. With a 14.8 efficiency rating, the Bruins regular season PP was nearly a full percentage point worse that the Rangers 15.7. In the playoffs, the B’s are 3-20 while the Rangers sputter along ineptly at 2-28.
The B’s fourth line are more hard-hat type players, all with recent Stanley Cups, Danielle Paille and two guys who love to scrap. Shawn Thornton who is a pretty good fighter and Gregory Campbell who is not.
The Bruins defense is led by the big Z, Zdeno Chara. The humongous big Slovak will log major minutes and the Ranger forwards will have to keep their heads up around them. Chara is a decent skater, but if he has one weakness, its that he can get beat to the outside. The Rangers speedy forwards will have to keep their feet moving and their heads up when Chara is on the ice. The rest of the D crew is pretty banged up. The underrated Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference are out, so Johnny Boychuck and Adam McQuaid will have to step up. These two are serviceable, but beatable and the Rangers must do just that. The Bruins also feature future superstar Dougie Hamilton and of course, get ready for it, Wade Redden.
In net, Tuuka Rask is a very good goalie, but he is not Lundqvist and he gets taken off his game when he faces traffic and contact, two things the Rangers will have to throw at him in droves.
The Rangers seem to be finally finding their stride. The line combinations are meshing and players not named Nash, Callahan and Richards are stepping up. Derick Brassard has been a revelation, thriving in his first post season. After the first two games of the Washington series, both NYR losses, Brassard said he was terrible and needed to step up. In the 5 snce, he has done just that scoring 9 points and centering the Rangers top line. On his sides are Mats Zuccarello, who has brought feistiness and creativity to the Rangers. Zucc’s also stepping up and thriving and has found great chemistry with D-Brass. Finally, Rick Nash rounds out that trio and all of us in Rangerland are just waiting for the offensive explosion that we all know is coming from #61. He’s close and they will start going in for the big guy. He will not be goal-less in this series.
The Blueshirt’s second unit will be hugely important. Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, will most likelt be on the ice against Boston D other than Chara and they will have to use their speed on the forecheck to create offensive opportunities. The trio was solid in games three and four and then kind of quiet until Cally’s exclamation point goal in Game 7.
The Ranger’s third line will have to hit everything in yellow and black something Derek Dorsett is perfect for. DD will agitate and stir the pot with the B’s and get them off their game. Playoff scorer Brian Boyle will have to keep his offense going and maybe discover his inner power forward and any offense from Taylor Pyatt would be huge.
The fourth line is a wild card for the Rangers and one that could be key in this series. Declining superstar Brad Richards may dig deep to find his missing skill. Arron Asham has already scored some clutch goals and Tort’s have Chris Kreider is going to contribute in this series against his hometown team. This line is going to chip in and that will be tremendous for the NYR.
The Ranger D, even without Marc Staal, is a strength. Ryan McDonagh is a beast and one of the best shutdown D in the league and Dan Girardi is finding his All-Star form again. Up and down Michael Del Zotto is playing better and Anton Stralman is solid. Trade deadline throw-in, John Moore can fly and is really coming into his own and Steve Eminger was excellent in Game 7 and very good whenever he fills in.
In goal, the Rangers have some Swedish guy, who stops a lot of pucks.
This series features two very similar teams. They both have depth through their forward lines and sold defense, though the Bruins are banged up. Both squads have excellent penalty killers and terrible power plays. The Bruins have a very good goaltender, but the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist.
Playoff series are determined by special teams and goaltending. If either of these teams discovers a power play the other could be in trouble. We think that with the Rangers recent discovery of their offense, they just may find that elusive power play and with Lundqvist in net win the series in less than 7 games and maybe quicker.
Let’s go Rangers!