While some of us fans are still thinking about the “miracle on causeway”, the Bruins turn their attentions to the New York Rangers. The Rangers moved on to the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the Washington Capitals in 7 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs certainly challenged the Bruins in a variety of ways during their first round playoff match-up. Had it not been for spectacular comeback, the B’s would be sitting at home watching this series with Toronto in their place.
The Rangers are whole different type of animal, they pose a greater challenge to Boston in a bevy of areas, and the Bruins will have to bring a much better effort overall if they hope to keep up. I am going to break down the preview into three areas and discuss the advantages, and disadvantages both teams have in this series.
I think the Bruins match-up really well here. David Krejci leads the NHL in playoff scoring right now, and his linemates have been excellent thus far into the post-season. Milan Lucic has all but erased his miserable regular season with an impressive showing, and he is currently ranked 5th in the NHL playoff scoring leaders. Nathan Horton has also been up to the task with 4 goals, 3 assists, and a league leading +11 in the post season.
The real question here is the rest of the Bruins offense. Patrice Bergeron’s line with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand was basically none existent in the first round against Toronto, and it wasn’t until game 7 that they finally contributed offensively. Seguin finally broke his scoring slump against the Leafs with an assist on Bergeron’s series clinching goal. Hopefully it lit a fire underneath him, and the rest of that line. Seguin has been reportedly playing with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly on the third line in practice, while Jaromir Jagr has been moved up in his place. I think creates more balance throughout, and will take pressure of the young winger, while letting Jagr have a more important role in the top six. The Bruins’ bottom six was invisible against the Leafs, and to beat the Rangers they will need to elevate their play, and give Claude Julien the ability to role all four lines.
It has been somewhat of an unexpected season for the New York Rangers. The off-season addition of Rick Nash had many thinking the Rags would be an elite Eastern Conference team. Unfortunately for New York, inconsistent play from some pretty big players led to some pretty big changes. Brad Richards hasn’t been the same scoring machine he has been throughout his career since joining the Rangers, and was virtually non existent throughout the first round against the Capitals. In his debut in New York, Rick Nash was better than expected. He scored 21 goals, 21 assists, and a +16 in 44 games. Unfortunately he has yet to turn his good regular season into post season success. He only registered 2 assists in the Rangers’ series win.