A slew of injuries to Boston blueliners have some convinced the Rangers will roll through their second round matchup, but we should know by now that nothing comes easy for New York. Still, the Blueshirts have a good shot at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals if they follow these keys to victory.
Mitigate Boston’s advantage on faceoffs
It’s no coincidence that the team with the faceoff edge won five of seven games in New York’s first round matchup. Sure, there’s more to it than that, but winning faceoffs is one way to guarantee puck possession. For the second year in a row, Boston led the league in faceoff percentage by a wide margin, at 56.4%. First round hero Patrice Bergeron (62.1%) is far and away the best faceoff man in the league and will be a handful in this series. New York has been bipolar at the dots all year long, but the Rangers’ pivots will have to bring their “A” game to slow down Boston. Read more »
Just a quick reminder, this week’s live chat will be held this afternoon at 3pm, rather than tomorrow. How convenient, since it’ll act as a pre-game chat for Game One of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals tonight in Boston. See everyone this afternoon!
Welcome to the Musings. It’s a case of back to the future tonight as two rivals clash seemingly for the first time since time began. The boys have broken down the match up in depth and there’s not much you don’t know so I’m going to muse with you about non-Bruins/Rangers matters. Jump on in
Rant I: I’m beginning this week’s musings with a rant. Derek Stepan isn’t getting the due that he deserves. THN run a nice annual piece of alternative hockey awards and one category is ‘breakout player’. Stepan finished 8th, behind winner Nazeem Kadri, Voracek, Taylor Hall and Chris Kunitz among others. All the players had strong years but as they note, Kadri cooled considerably in April whereas Stepan got better as the games for the Rangers got more meaningful. Kunitz – while impressive – constantly had world class line mates while Voracek couldn’t help his team even get to the playoffs and Taylor Hall surely broke out a while ago.
Stepan would have been close to an 80 point season this year, was a league leader in game winners and plus minus all the while on a low scoring team without – for the large part – elite line mates and he’s twenty two. I think Stepan deserves more credit from league sources, but hey – maybe a Stanley Cup may help his rep. Rant over.
The news that was all but official is not officially official, as Mike Morreale at NHL.com is reporting that Yankee Stadium will be hosting two outdoor NHL games during Super Bowl week in 2014. The Rangers will face the Devils on January 26, 2014 at 12:30pm, and then the Islanders on January 29, 2014 at 7:30pm. The Rangers will be the visiting team in both games.
Per Andrew Gross, coach John Tortorella has flipped his defensive pairs to prep for the Boston series, as “Ryan McDonagh is skating with Anton Stralman while Dan Girardi is with Michael Del Zotto. John Moore remains with Steve Eminger and Marc Staal (blurred vision) is not skating.” This makes sense, as the Bruins are a much deeper and less top-heavy team than the Caps, requiring the Rangers to adjust their pairings to be able to deal with four strong lines.
Gross also notes that in addition to Staal, Darroll Powe and Ryane Clowe are not skating.
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 »
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.
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.
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.