After dispatching a tough Washington Capitals team in the first round, the Rangers have been rewarded with the Boston Bruins as their next opponent. Boston is coming off a somewhat improbable victory over an upstart Maple Leafs squad who is trending in the right direction. Opposing The King in this series will be former Maple Leaf, Tuukka Rask.
Rask is a former 1st round pick of the Leafs (21st overall), who was moved to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft (!) just before the 2007 season. Rask was putting up solid numbers in Finland, but was just 19 years old at the time of the deal. Toronto needed established goaltending now, and had Justin Pogge waiting in the wings. This left Rask expendable, and former Bruin’s interim GM and current Rangers assistant GM, Jeff Gorton, was more than willing to make that deal. Obviously, this one worked out well for Boston. Rask made it over to North America in 2009-2010, and has been groomed as Boston’s goalie of the future ever since.
Ok, enough with the history lesson, let’s break down Rask’s game. Since Tim Thomas was the starting goalie in Boston the last time I scouted the B’s, Rask gets the full format. General style, strengths, weaknesses and how the Rangers should approach the matchup. Here we go… Read more »
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
For the first time since 1973 the Rangers will square off against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. What was once a fierce rivalry between these two teams has been dormant for decades. That is all about to change real soon as another chapter will be written in sports history between these two cities.
Putting aside the obvious narratives about the two famed franchises and their wonderful histories, the story for this series will be about each team’s present day 5-on-5 play. Neither team possesses a power play worth envying and neither team is top-heavy in the skill department ala the Penguins or the Capitals (RIP). This series will likely see complete team efforts on both sides of the ice.
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The Rangers and the Bruins are set to do battle in the Eastern Conference Semis, and this series is expected to be as difficult a series as the Washington series. The Rangers haven’t faced the Bruins since the very beginning of the season, so their 2-0-1 record against the Bruins this season does not reflect the deadline deals that both teams made. Coming into the playoffs, the Rangers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and the Bruins were playing .500 hockey. Now they both have great momentum, with the Rangers taking the final two games against the Caps and the Bruins coming back from down 4-1 in the third to dispatch the Leafs in seven.
The Bruins and Rangers are very similar teams in makeup, but they play two very different styles of hockey. The Rangers are a very aggressive team, and the Bruins are the exact opposite. Boston plays a trapping style and a passive, physical game to wear down their opponents. The only similarity between the Rangers and the Bruins is that they are both stellar defensive teams.
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The schedule for the Rangers/Bruins series has been released:
- Game One: 5/16, 7:30PM on NBCSN
- Game Two: 5/19, 3PM on NBC
- Game Three: 5/21, 7:30PM on NBCSN
- Game Four: 5/23, 7PM on CNBC
- Game Five: 5/25 Time TBA
- Game Six: 5/27 Time TBA
- Game Seven: 5/29 Time TBA
The extra day off before Game One and before Game Two will hopefully benefit a Rangers team ravaged by injuries, but I wouldn’t expect any of Marc Staal, Ryane Clowe, or Darroll Powe to play any time soon.
Photo credit: ESPN
The Rangers survived in seven games to upset the Caps in the first round in a series that really could have gone either way for six of the seven games. Two games went to overtime, three games were decided by a goal in regulation, and another game was decided by just two goals. The Caps led for under 35 minutes in the entire series, even though they dominated play and puck possession for the majority of the series. That said, out-puck-possessing doesn’t mean you win.
The Rangers got their share of luck, which certainly contributed to the win, but they also controlled play when they needed to in the games they won. They scored goals when they needed to, they killed penalties when they needed to, and they got stellar goaltending. But to play devil’s advocate, so did the Caps. In the end, the series was a toss-up. The coin came up heads, and the Rangers won.
Why they won – Goaltending
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Well this was a convincing way to end the series. The Rangers made a statement in Game Seven, scoring five goals and shutting out the Caps to complete the comeback from down 3-2 in the series. Henrik Lundqvist was good when he needed to be, but the Rangers made sure he didn’t need to be dominant like he was in Game Six. They won the physical battles, and they finally found chinks in Holtby’s armor en route to the rout. There won’t be pictures for this breakdown, I apologize in advance for that. On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Caps 0
Chris Kreider got a big break on this one. As he was getting on the ice for a line change, he went over to pressure Eric Fehr instead of covering Mike Green, who was his man. Green wound up getting stopped by Hank on the breakaway, and Kreider eventually wound up with the puck gaining the Caps zone. He dropped the puck back to Arron Asham, who ripped it through Braden Holtby. Holtby looked to be a bit screened on the play.
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Ben Solomon for The New York Times
Another day, another Game Seven for the Rangers. We all know what the Rangers need to do tonight. They need to win the special teams battle. They need to win the boards battle. They need to win the defensive battle. They need to win the high-priced real estate. They need to score. If you have a heart monitor, I’d recommend using it tonight. If you’re like me, you will need a beverage or two to get through this.
Be sure to catch up on everything you need to know for this series:
Game Six goal breakdown
Game Five goal breakdown
Game Four goal breakdown
Game Three goal breakdown
Game Two goal breakdown
Game One goal breakdown
How the Caps will match up lines
Keys for Ranger success
Special teams may decide series
Scouting Braden Holtby
Previewing the Caps systems
Caps will be a tough series for the Rangers Read more »
Michael St. Croix (4th, 2011) and the Edmonton Oil Kings fell in Game Six to the Portland Winterhawks by a score of 5-1. The loss gave Portland the WHL Championship and a trip to the Mastercard Memorial Cup. St. Croix had an assist and was a -1 in the finale.
The Mastercard Memorial Cup is a four team tournament that comprises each of the CHL champions (WHL – Portland, QMJHL - Halifax, OHL – TBD) and the host city’s team (Saskatoon Blades). Because Saskatoon is hosting the tournament, the Rangers will have two prospects participating: Shane McColgan (5th, 2011), and Josh Nicholls (undrafted UFA). The tournament begins on May 17.
Per Pat Leonard, Marc Staal, Ryane Clowe, and Darroll Powe are all out for tonight’s Game Seven in Washington. Powe and Clowe didn’t even travel with the team for the game tonight. With these three out, expect the same lineup as Game Six. It’s worth noting that the Rangers have not dressed their top lineup at all during the postseason.
Per Andrew Gross, defenseman Stu Bickel and forward J.T. Miller were sent home from the Rangers taxi squad for wrist injuries. This doesn’t have much of an effect on the Rangers, but neither Bickel nor Miller will be available as injury replacements.