Claude Julien has done a magnificent job with the Bruins even if they are not always pleasing to the eye. The Bruins play a conservative 1-4 forecheck (trapping style of hockey), which suits their slower, but more physical roster to perfection. Their main goal is to shut down the neutral zone, prevent odd man rushes, and force transition rushes in the other direction. The ultimate reward of a Stanley Cup fully vindicates their system.
On the other hand, John Tortorella plays a 2-1-2 forecheck (puck pursuit brand of hockey), which requires a good consistent effort on the puck, a high pace, and the use of defensemen to join or lead the rush. This system aims to keep play in the opposition’s zone by aggressive forechecking and pinching defensemen. Can Tortorella’s system once again be successful in the playoffs?
‘One Ahead of the Other’
Amid all of the similarities is the fact that, simply put, the Bruins are ahead of the Rangers in their development. Chara IS a Norris trophy winner and annual candidate for the award, while Marc Staal hasn’t reached that level (yet). Krejci is an established playmaking center while Stepan is at the beginning of his (hopefully successful) NHL career. The entire Bruins defense has a great amount of experience when you consider Kaberle, Seidenberg and Andrew Ference while the Rangers D is still in its learning curve. There are the forwards such as Bergeron, Horton, Recchi and Ryder who possess a greater level of experience than the Rangers equivalents.
Mark Recchi has an unbelievable amount of playoff experience and now boasts 3 cups. Chris Kelly (who had a very good playoffs for the Bruins) had been to the Cup final with the Senators. Kaberle, believe it or not has a ton of playoff experience with over 100 NHL playoff games including a deep run with the Leafs (yes, really). Andrew Ference has been to a Cup final before this year and is now one game shy of 100 playoff games in the NHL. Seidenberg has had two long playoff runs before arriving in Boston, even Shawn Thornton boasts over 60 playoff games in the quest for Stanley.
The point here is that Boston has/had a surprising amount of playoff experience and that is invaluable. The only Rangers with what can be considered significant NHL playoff experience is Drury (135 playoff games), Gaborik (34 games), Prospal (65 games), Fedotenko (88) and McCabe (56). As they go into next season, the Rangers will probably still be relatively green in terms of playoff games played (another reason for a Brad – Conn Smythe – Richards signing?) especially if all of McCabe, Fedotenko, Prospal and Drury do not return, which is very possible.
The Rangers appear to be similar to the Bruins in personnel as well as roster composition and they seem simply to be at a different point in their development. If anything, the Bruins cup victory should excite Rangers fans as the Bruins offer the Rangers legitimate hope that a cup victory could be in their future.
With the likes of Lundqvist, Callahan, Staal, Dubinsky, Stepan and Gaborik providing an established core for the future, the Rangers have the chance to do something special. Tempering the enthusiasm and excitement, this all comes with a few caveats. Prospects still need to be developed, holes on the roster need to be filled, and key players on the current roster can’t afford to stagnate. Having said all that, there is plenty of reason for optimism, and now it is up to Glen Sather and John Tortorella to make the dream of another Cup Parade a reality.