For the first time in 40 years the Rangers will meet the Bruins in the playoffs. That’s pretty insane when you think about it. Rod Gilbert was on the Rangers, and Bobby Orr was on the Bruins. The Rangers won that series in five games before going out in five games to the Blackhawks the next round.
Anyways, let’s get down to business.
The Bruins are one of the best teams in the league in terms of forward depth. Teams like Hawks, Kings, Rangers (when healthy), and Pittsburgh are in the running for that title. Surprisingly though, the Bruins depth didn’t really show up for them against Toronto.
The team was carried offensively by the Horton-Krejci-Lucic line, and the other lines definitely lacked offensively. One of the best two way players in the game in Patrice Bergeron was held to a single goal in the series until the last minute of game 7 and the overtime that ensued in which he ended up with 3 goals in the series total. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin between them had zero goals.
While the Rangers may have had their fair share of scoring issues against the Capitals, the Bruins arguably struggled more than the Rangers did in that regard. Goals from the Bruins defenseman gave them the edge against the Leafs in round one.
The Bruins will definitely need Jagr, Seguin, Marchand, and Bergeron to show something offensively. Hopefully Henrik Lundqvist can get in the Bruins shooters heads just like he did against the Capitals.
This is where it gets dicey for the Bruins. Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, and former Ranger universally loved by all Wade Redden were all absent from Bruins practice today. Seidenberg is the B’s second best defenseman, and Ference is very much an important part of the top 4 core.
For arguments sake let’s just say all three are out for game 1. In come Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, and Torey Krug. Bartkowski has a grand total of 20 NHL games under his belt, and Krug and Hamilton are young defenseman with very good upside. Hamilton is the real deal and will be a great defenseman in the future, but has recently found himself a healthy scratch. Krug is call up from the AHL with very good offensive numbers.
Zdeno Chara’s assignment will be Rick Nash throughout the series and I don’t see that changing at all. Even if Nash is not scoring he’s still way too big a threat to let roam free. You didn’t see the Rangers ease off of Ovechkin just because he couldn’t score. It’ll be up to Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, and Ryan Callahan to exploit the other defensive pairs out there and create offense.
Tukka Rask will be the netminder for the Bruins and this will only be the second time he’s in net in a second round matchup. His last time in the second round ended in an epic collapse against the Flyers back in 2010. As a goalie I think Rask is on the same level as Braden Holtby. At times he can look great, but mostly he’s above average.
In the last round the Maple Leafs threw around 33.4 shots a game at Rask and he saved just over 92% of them. Not bad. At times throughout the series I thought the Leafs shot quality was horrendous, but anything over 92% in terms of saves is good.
I think Rask will be as good as the defense in front of him. If these blue liners don’t come back for the Bruins, Rask may have to steal the series for the Bruins to have a chance. He’s definitely capable of getting hot in a seven game series, and I think he’s the X factor for the Bruins.
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