What’s the old adage? Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
The Bruins exerted their will in the third period of game 7 in the first round series against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that should have rolled over and died after game 4. The Bruins let the Leafs hang around until the final minute and a half of regulation, when they suddenly scored 2 goals to send it to overtime, which they eventually won. Leafs Nation still remains in tatters.
The Rangers finally exerted their will in the final game of their series, lighting up a Capitals team for 5 goals, while the defending Vezina trophy winner shut the opposition out for the second game in two nights. The Rangers 5 goals were a refreshing difference, since it seemed like the Rangers couldn’t put pucks in the net if their lives depended on it.
The Bruins and the Rangers haven’t met in the playoffs since 1973. It was a much different league then, and that series was a bloodbath – old time hockey. Considering the style of play that the Rangers and the Bruins play, I expect that this series will be the same.
You have to figure that the Rangers’ scoring woes won’t go on forever, and you’ve got to give young Braden Holtby and the Washington defense credit for keeping Rick Nash out of the goal column. However, it’s widely believed that he is playing on a bum knee. In game 5 against the Caps, he lost an edge, looked like he was shaken up, went directly to the locker room. He came back, and maybe missed one shift, probably after the Rangers training staff inserted a cortisone filled needle the length of my forearm into his knee.
The Bruins aren’t exactly the pictures of health either. Both Andrew Ference, on crutches prior to game 7 against the Leafs, and the oft under-rated Dennis Seidenberg were not in the Bruins’ practice and remain doubtful for game 1 Thursday night. Not to be outdone, the Rangers will continue to feel the absence of Ryane Clowe and Marc Staal.
Goaltending will play a big factor again, with the duel between Tuuka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist taking center stage. You’ve got to give the edge the Lundqvist, who took control of his first round series, posting consecutive shut outs against a potent Capitals offense. The Bruins will quickly find out that Lundqvist is no James Reimer.
Will the Rangers blueline be able to stop the Bruins forward depth, which includes Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, and Jaromir Jagr? Again, the Bruins seemed to be able to light up the Leafs at times, but before Bruins fans start thinking the same thing will happen versus the Rangers, I would like to remind you that the Leafs team defense was iffy all season. The Rangers are known for their defensive play, and being responsible in the neutral zone.
Both of these teams have the potential to dominate games. They’ve each shown flashes of that in each of their first round series. The thing is that the Bruins, with all their depth and all the talk of being poised for a long playoff run, had trouble putting away a team with suspect defense, and average goaltending. The Rangers do not fit that profile. If the Bruins are going to make this a series, they are going to have to work harder at taking control of each shift.
The Rangers will need to score. They will need to score early and often. They need to see production from their big guns – Nash, Brad Richards, and Ryan Callahan need to play as big as their painted effigies in the Madison Square Garden lobby. Every player on all four lines will need to live by the mantra that John Tortorella preaches: “Win your shift.”
Whichever team is able to successfully exert their will consistently will be the team that takes this series. My guess is that the Rangers edge in goaltending is again the difference – Rangers in 7
|Thursday, May 16||7:30 p.m.||NY Rangers at Boston||NBC Sports Network|
|Sunday, May 19||3:00 p.m.||NY Rangers at Boston||NBC|
|Tuesday, May 21||7:30 p.m.||Boston at NY Rangers||NBC Sports Network|
|Thursday, May 23||7:00 p.m.||Boston at NY Rangers||CNBC|
|*Saturday, May 25||TBD||NY Rangers at Boston||TBD|
|*Monday, May 27||TBD||Boston at NY Rangers||TBD|
|*Wednesday, May 29||TBD||NY Rangers at Boston||TBD|
Here’s what my colleagues think:
Mitch Tierney (63%): Rangers in 6. Boston had major issues closing out the Leafs and looked disinterested. Rangers will be incredibly hungry going into this series. It will come down to them wanting it more.
Ben Kerr (63%): Rangers in 6: Bruins were pushed to the limit by the Leafs, Chara doesn’t look dominant like he has in the past and Lundqvist had back to back shutouts to end the series vs the Capitals. Lundqvist is better than Rask and takes the series.
Max Vasilyev (100%): Boston in 7: These two teams love playing all seven games and while Henrik is being a wall, Bruins are not as one dimensional as the Capitals. Look for Seguin to emerge with a bit more swagger this series and be the difference maker.
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