From the Journal News and LoHud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
GREENBURGH – The Rangers and Bruins won’t need mirrors this week. They can just look at each other while they’re grinding out games in their first playoff series in 40 years.
Here’s a look at the matchups:
FORWARDS: The Bruins have nobody like Alex Ovechkin, whom the Rangers shut down in the first round. They have some skill, certainly, in David Krejci, Tyler Seguin and former Ranger Jaromir Jagr. But more typical of the Bruins forwards are rugged Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand, Scott Thornton, Gregory Campbell and one of the top two-way forwards in the NHL, Patrice Bergeron.
All of them are physical, most of them responsible defensively.
Similar to the Rangers, whose big gun Rick Nash, failed to score a goal in seven games vs. Washington, and whose captain, Ryan Callahan, didn’t score one until the third period of Game 7. But Callahan led a hit parade against the Capitals, causing turnovers and creating offense, and after losing the first two games, the Rangers won four of five because guys like Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Derek Dorsett, Arron Asham won wall wars.
The Rangers will need to be very good in that area, and will need offense and two-way play from Derek Stepan, Callahan, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Carl Hagelin, of course Nash, and it would help if Brad Richards got untracked. Maybe Boston’s Chris Kreider tosses in some offense, too?
DEFENSEMEN: The Rangers have nobody like Zdeno Chara, but who does? The Boston defense is more physical, with Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference dishing it out, and the B’s have skilled rookie Dougie Hamilton. But their defense is also banged up with Ference and Dennis Seidenberg, along with Rangers’ buyout Wade Redden nursing injuries.
The Rangers’ top pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh did a wonderful job on Ovechkin, who didn’t have a point in the last five games, and had one goal in the series. They were pounded by the Caps, though, and will be again. Marc Staal is questionable, at best, for this series, so the Rangers will need Anton Stralman to continue his steady play, and for Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger and John Moore to play as they did in Games 6 and 7.
GOALTENDERS: Henrik Lundqvist vs. anybody right now is a win for the Rangers, coming off his two shutouts in elimination games, and having allowed one regulation goal in the last three road games of the Washington series.
But Tuukka Rask has always been good against the Rangers, and is capable of being better than Braden Holtby was in the previous series.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The key to the Rangers’ special teams vs. Washington was to avoid them. The Caps’ NHL-best power play couldn’t get on the ice the last three games. The Rangers’ kill was about the same during the season and first round (81.1 percent/15th in the NHL; 81.2 percent/ninth), but their power play stunk (7.1 percent vs. Washington, 15.7, ranked 23rd, during the season).
The Bruins will take penalties, especially guys like Ference, Lucic, Thornton and Marchand. But Bergeron and Gregory Campbell are top killers. Boston was fourth best in the NHL during the season (87.1), but worse than the Rangers on the power play (14.8 percent/26th).
COACHING: Both John Tortorella and Claude Julien have Stanley Cups on their resumes. Tortorella’s press conferences tend to be more entertaining or annoying, depending on your view. But both favor a grinding, tough, forechecking style of play, both get their players to buy into defending, and players for both coaches will run through walks for them. They have played close games head to head, mostly low-scoring, seemingly forever.
PREDICTION: Bruins in 7 (sorry).
(photo from johnkstuff.blogpost.com)
(thanks for the idea, Hagerstown Md Rangers Fan.)