NEW YORK RANGERS vs. BOSTON BRUINS
Thursday, May 23 - 7:00 p.m. – Madison Square Garden
Eastern Conference Semifinals – Game 4
Play every minute like it is your last, because it just might be. This how the NY Rangers must play tonight. Head Coach John Tortorella has praised the character of his team all year, and did so again yesterday. Tonight at Madison Square Garden, we will find out just how true that is.
In 2010, the Flyers roared back from a 3-0 deficit against Boston, to win! Darroll Powe was a member of that team and was quoted by Rick Carpiniello after practice yesterday:
“What I remember is going in every day and just focusing on the game at hand. I mean, obviously we can’t win four games tomorrow night so we’ve just got to focus on the task at hand, which is coming out strong on our first shift. You go shift by shift and you just chip away. You’ve got to try and win every shift. That’s how you’re going to get back in the series.
“You have to go in with that belief (that it’s possible) for sure. You win that one game and things start to change. Then after that you worry about the next game, and as you go, in that series, your confidence builds and grows and the other side you can see kind of going the other way. But you can’t do any of that without a big next game.”
The Rangers will attempt to eat the proverbial elephant, one bite at a time! Let's Go Rangers!
Larry Brooks says it's time for the Rangers to retaliate! I agree.
NYDN believes Stralman will miss game 4. That hurts....BIG TIME!
Andrew Gross writes about taking the first step.
The Power Play! Yes, it is killing us all slowly. If someone with any authority is reading this, please pass this along to coach John Tortorella. I hope it will help him fix the power play once and for all.
The problem with it seems simple to me, it's personnel. However, it's more about which guys he has out there together! The Rangers have 2 PP goals in the playoffs:
1. Brassard (Zuccarello/Boyle)
2. Girardi (Brassard/Zuccarello)
The names involved in those goals should speak volumes to anyone reading this. So here are my units:
PP UNIT 1:
C - Brassard, LW - Boyle, RW - Nash
Points - Zuccarello and Girardi
PP UNIT 2:
C - Stepan, LW - Hagelin, RW - Callahan
Points - Moore and Del Zotto
Immediately you will notice no Richards on the PP. He doesn't belong there right now. He is over-thinking and squeezing the life out of his stick. Until he earns it 5 on 5, he needs to stay off of it.
If Clowe was healthy, I'd put him on PP1 instead of Boyle. PP2 I would then use Boyle over Hagelin. Both those 2 forwards provide that slot area presence that causes traffic, deflections and GOALS! However, since Clowe is out, Hagelin needs to play the role of puck getter and Callahan must play like the big man in front.
Some of you will question the points. Here it is, Zuccarello is a PP specialist and can QB it. I really believe that. Girardi has a decent shot and provides that defensive reliability you need if you are going to have 4 forwards out there.
So there you go, my simple solution to this powerless play. Let me know what you think here or on twitter.
The Rangers and Bruins meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 40 years! Each team went a grueling 7 games in the first round. NY came back from a 3-2 deficit to beat the Caps. The Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead to Toronto and overcame a 4-1 game 7 deficit to win 5-4 in OT. So what should we expect in this Round 2 matchup? Let's find out!
During the lockout shortened season the two teams each earned 4 points in the 3 games played. NY was 2-1 with a win in OT and another in the shootout. Boston was 1-0-2 with the only regulation win. The last time they played was on February 12th! If you remember in that game, NY was up 3-0 until Milan Lucic elbowed Rick Nash’s head into the boards. Boston roared back in the third period to tie. Rick Nash scored the eventual game winner in the shootout, but would miss time with a speculated concussion. If the regular season showed anything, it’s that these two teams are evenly matched.
Let's start the breakdown by looking at the way each team finished the 1st round:
NYR: GFA (2.29) - GAA (1.71)
BOS: GFA (3.14) – GAA (2.57)
NYR: PP 07% - PK 81%
BOS: PP 15% - PK 76%
NYR: FOW% - 49%
BOS: FOW% - 60%
These stats indicate to me is that both have special team issues. While NY’s PP has been terrible, Boston’s has been below average. It evens out when you see the PK better for NY. The goals for versus goals against differential are basically even. The Rangers biggest concern has to be face-offs! Boston dominated the circle and the Rangers couldn’t win half their draws against Washington. NY needs to rectify this more than anything else in order to advance to round 3. Let's dive deeper!
Statistically, the matchup between Rask and Lundqvist is heavily in the King’s favor. Henrik Lundqvist is an early candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy. The King is the reigning best goaltender in the league. His games 6 & 7 shutout performances has the entire league buzzing. Henrik will be focused and determined to continue his stellar play. Boston will crowd the net and try to screen him because if he sees it, he stops it. Rask has been shaky to stellar thus far. It is in NY’s best interest to fire from everywhere!
Edge - Rangers
Krejci, Horton and Lucic are all on fire! David Krejci was the leading scorer with 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in round one. Horton had 4 goals against the Leafs, while Lucic was a beast, hitting and scoring often in round one. You add Bergeron to the mix and it’s no doubt Boston has the edge. You should fully expect Tortorella to put McDonagh and Girardi against that top line.
On the opposite end, Derick Brassard was a revelation. He led the Blueshirts with 2 goals and 7 assists. The young center is now being charged with the responsibility of raising Rick Nash’s game. All is not gloom and doom because the Rangers are getting scoring from all four lines. If Nash, Stepan, Callahan and Richards can get going, the edge goes away.
Edge - Bruins
In round one, it was about shutting down Mike Green. Now NY has to raise their game and stop Zdeno Chara! The hulking defenseman was a monster against the Leafs, scoring 1 goal and 7 assists with a +6 rating. Here is the good news, that’s it for Boston. The Bruins are dealing with injuries to Dennis Seidenberg who left early in game 7 and did not return. Add the injuries to Andrew Ference and Wade Redden and Boston may have to play 3 rookie defensemen. This will impact them in zone breakouts and handling momentum swings.
Meanwhile, the New York Rangers continue to shine on the blue line, as John Moore and Anton Stralman have elevated their play. Even Steve Eminger has done a tremendous job in Marc Staal’s absence. If Staal can return from his latest setback it would provide a boost. However, this defense and Henrik Lundqvist can absolutely lead the way to a series victory.
Edge - Rangers
NY and Boston aren’t scaring anyone with their powerplays. However, the Rangers must continue to play with the level of discipline they displayed against Washington. Milan Lucic will run any Ranger over, especially Rick Nash. I expect coach Torts to keep them away from each other for Nash’s safety. What NY and the referees must look out for is Boston running Lundqvist. If that is the Bruins game-plan and the refs won’t call it, NY must protect the King. Even if it means taking penalties.
Edge - Even
The Bruins top line is red-hot and should instill fear in any team. However, the Caps were even hotter. McDonagh and Girardi shut them down, while the rest did a great job. The Rangers defense blocks shots, 91 one of them against the Caps. When you factor in Henrik Lundqvist, NY has to be the best left in the playoffs defensively. You can expect Claude Julien to use home ice-advantage to keep Krejci’s line away from Girardi and McDonagh.
The Rangers need to improve offensively. Rick Nash having only 2 assists was mind boggling, but there were late signs of him breaking out. He did lead all Rangers with 22 shots last round. If Rick Nash can find room and NY can sustain scoring from the 3rd and 4th lines, this series will finish early.
NY’s defense and goaltending edge make them the favorites. Even though there is a major concern in the faceoff circle, I feel NY can overcome this. The Marc Staal and Ryane Clowe injuries aside, NY has shown enough depth to compete. The fact that Boston may have to start 3 rookies on the blue line, has to be a major concern for Claude Julien. If you factor in that Boston has played 17 games to the Rangers 15 in the last month, fatigue could also come into play around game 5. It looks like the Rangers will return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
NEW YORK RANGERS IN 6 GAMES!