Rangers vs. Bruins 2nd round preview

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

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.

Offense:

The Bruins generate most of their offense from 5-on-5 play, particularly from their top line of Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton. This trio provides a great mix of skill and grit and has been red hot the past several games. The second line — and probably the most critical for Boston — is the line of Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin. This is another well balanced group, but they struggled against Toronto. Secondary scoring in general was an issue for Boston as Seguin, Marchand and even Jagr failed to generate offense.

As for the Rangers, their offense so far has been inconsistent. The power play continues to struggle, Nash and Richie have yet to elevate their games and the team in general hasn’t been possessing the puck. Though to be fair, of the teams advancing to the second round, only Boston, Chicago and Detroit have a 5-on-5 Corsi% over 50.

The Rangers have been getting offense by committee. Although it is nice to see guys like Boyle and Life of Pyatt step up, it would go a long way if our top forwards could find more consistency and if our blueline could get more pucks on net. Those two elements would force Boston to defend against us differently and possibly open things up for the Blueshirts.

Slight edge: Boston

Defense:

Aside from Chara, no one else on the Bruins blueline really scares me. The two rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton are impressive, but green. Wade Redden is day-to-day, and we all know he isn’t anything special. Seidenberg is believed to be out. With all of these injuries Julien has had to deploy Chara close to 29 mins per game (2nd in the NHL in icetime per game this postseason).

The Rangers defensemen were absolute ballers last series. Girardi and McDonagh shutdown Ovechkin and the Capitals. With Staal out, MDZ and Stralman both were able to take on increased responsibility. Eminger and Moore handled increased minutes well too. Containing the Capitals is no easy feat and the Rangers were able to limit their offense and give the coaching staff some quality minutes.

Edge: Rangers

Goaltending:

I don’t want to get into this too much since Justin will be breaking down Rask’s game later this afternoon, but I will say Henrik gives the Rangers an obvious edge. Rask is a solid young goalie, better than Holtby in my opinion, but he’s still not touching Hank. No one really does.

Edge: Rangers

Coaching:

Dave gave a good in-depth systems overview of these two teams yesterday so I’m not going to get too much into the x’s and o’s. Personally, I’m not a fan of Julien’s systems or his bench management philosophies. Not that I don’t think his strategies can’t be successful, obviously they can, I just relate more to the Tortorella way of doing things. The right way.

Julien doesn’t get married to matchups or make as many on-the-fly adjustments, so there’s a little less tinkering of his line combos. Some think it’s a stubborn approach, other’s think it fosters chemistry. There’s no right or wrong answer really. I just prefer line matching when you can.

Julien also makes his team sit on leads and plug up the neutral zone in those 1-1-3 and 1-4 formations. Again, that stuff has won championships, but I prefer 2-1-2 forechecking and puck pursuit. Finally, Julien doesn’t let his d-men join the rush or get on the forecheck as much as Torts allows our guys to. Growing up watching Brian Leetch, I think you know where I stand on that issue.

In the end, although these coaches have different approaches, both are highly respected around the league and coaching circles. While I thought having Torts provided a slight edge over Oates in the DC series, with Julien I think you could make a case for either depending which style of play you identify with. I’m one of the few Torts fans through and through, so I’m leaning his direction.

Slight Edge: Rangers

Prediction: Rangers in 6

24 Responses to “Rangers vs. Bruins 2nd round preview”

  1. Walt says:

    Suit

    Now the truth is told, “I’m a Torts fan”, no wonder you pick on me!!!!!

    Hay Torts did a great job in round one, so I ate crow in another posting.

    I have to disagree on one issue, Boston, with Jagr in this line up could be very dangerious. That guy over the years killed us, and I can’t help but think that he could get hot, and do us harm. Also, I believe that the Rangers will get some scoring from the big guns this series, especially Nash. The guy has too much pride, and wants to prove his worth.

    As usual, good job on the preview, you may earn a silk tie for it!!

    • Joe says:

      I did not see Torts on the ice in the Caps series. They defend him by saying he doesn’t play, so no credit for the win either, it was the players! Let’s go Rangers!

      • The Suit says:

        Two years of chalk talks and that’s what you take away from them? Atta boy Joe.

        • Dave says:

          People just wanna hate.

          • Joe says:

            Just funning with you guys, I thought you would enjoy it! Come on that was funny. Lighten up and have a sense of humor.

            • Dave says:

              Humor? What is this “humor” you speak of?

              • Joe says:

                The whole Tortorella situation. You know I’m no fan, so I thought it amusing to Post that he was not on the ice. My bad! I don’t get you guys and you obviously don’t get me. I’m just enjoying life and trying to laugh a lot. In Boston today and just visited the memorial. Very sobering so that is why I try to interject humor, obviously I failed miserably. Lot of people up here are scared of the Rangers this series, especially Henrik! I was just trying to get a rise out of you guys, it worked, but you took me too seriously. I guess you had to be here to see my face and hear my tone, trust me I was just kidding you guys!

              • Dave says:

                I was joking with the “humor” thing. Jokes on the internet are generally lost because you can’t tell tone of voice.

    • The Suit says:

      Welcome to team hockey sense Walt.

  2. Scully says:

    Does anyone know Staal’s status going into Game 1. How about Clowe? It sounds like mum’s the word so far.

    • Dave says:

      Don’t expect them to play this series. If they do, consider it a pleasant surprise.

      I think Clowe and Powe are done for the year. Staal’s still a coin flip, but don’t get your hopes up.

      • Ray says:

        I suspect that at this point Staal considers his career to be over. He will never have fully satisfactory eyesight and likely can’t play at his accustomed level. He probably will still be good and the urge to play may overwhelm him at some point, but for 2013, his contribution was the much needed psychological boost he gave the Rangers by suiting up for Game 3. Just my opinion of course, but his pre Game 4 comments suggested someone who never planned to play a second game.

        • Dave says:

          Nah, his career isn’t over. Eye injuries take time. It must be frustrating for him.

        • AdamGravesIsTheMan says:

          Where are you getting any of this? Do you actually know that his injury is serious to the point of career ending or are you trying to read between the lines of his press conference?

  3. Zev says:

    I’m a little scared for MDZ in this series. I am a fan and sometimes staunch defender of his, but he tends to take more risks than any of his fellow defenseman, and like you said in the previous post about the Bruins tactics, they are a transition team that feasts on turnovers. The Rangers clearly rely on their D to create offense and Del Zotto is arguably the most talented offensive Dman on the team (I think McD has a higher celingiling offensively), but he needs to pick his spots intelligently against Boston.

    • The Suit says:

      No disagreement from me.

    • Zev says:

      *Ceiling. Wow.

    • Dave says:

      The Bs will kill MDZ if he blows his assignments, that is absolutely true. But MDZ did ok against a much more skilled Washington team, so I’m not that concerned.

      • Joe says:

        As much as you may not believe this, I think Torts will school MDZ on this team and he will play accordingly. Thanks Dave for the last post, I guess we were all missing each others point. Let’s have some fun watching the rangers beat up on the bruins. I think rangers win in 6

        • Dave says:

          MDZ is so young, he’s still years away from his peak. He’s going to continue to be a top-40 (top second pairing) defenseman in this league for a long time.

          • Barry Gelb says:

            He must improve his skating and shot or he will never live up to his talent. If he even skated like Matt Gilroy, he would be a much better player with some foot speed

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        A Bruins fan I work with asked me whether the Rangers would accept a Tyler Seguin for Del Zotto trade if proposed by the Bruins. How fast would Sather run to the league office to report that deal?

        Del Zotto has a much better reputation outside of the NY Ranger fandom, I can tell you that.

        Bruins fans are not that unlike Rangers fans in their fleeting support of young players also (and I can’t tell you how many fans want Claude Julien fired).

        • Dave says:

          Uh…in a heart beat. I’m a huge MDZ fan, but I drive him to Boston if that’s what it takes to get Seguin.