Category: Playoffs

ECF Game 2 Preview, plus a note about Hank’s OT record

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Today the Rangers look to avoid going back to MSG down 2-0. In game 1 the Blueshirts stayed with the Bruins until OT where they were out-shot 16-5, half of which was on that one power play. Although it wasn’t a great game by any means, I thought the Bruins looked very beatable. Sure they have depth and an ability to roll four lines, but at no point did I feel like any of their guys were legit threats to send us home packing. That nervousness for me just wasn’t there the way it was against the Caps, or even the Devils or Senators last year. I know that’s not much of an analysis, but that’s what the gut was telling me. Anyone feel differently?

Side note: The media has made a big fuss over Henrik Lundqvist’s losing record in OT during the playoffs. Interesting that no one is mentioning Martin Brodeur’s career playoff OT record of 12-21 (.364)

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Positives and negatives from Game One

Well, I think we’ve witnessed the advantage of earning home ice in the playoffs, wouldn’t you say?  After falling into an 0-2 hole against Washington in the first round, the Rangers dropped the first game of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup against the Bruins in overtime.  After a lengthy feeling out period, the play opened up late in the second and into the third frame.  The teams were relatively even until overtime, when the Bruins got chance after chance until Brad Marchand finally notched the game-winner at 15:40.  Some positives and negatives from Game One:

Positives

- As we noted in the keys to the series, Boston was the league’s best faceoff team in the regular season for the second year in a row, but New York did a good job of keeping things relatively even in Game One.  Derek Stepan had a miserable night on draws, going 5-14, but the rest of the Rangers were a combined 25-23.  Not terrible, and the Rangers did get a few scoring opportunities off faceoff wins.

- Perhaps whatever issues were plaguing Rick Nash in the first round are now behind him?  This was easily Nash’s best performance since Game One against Washington.  The Rangers’ offensive leader set up Ryan McDonagh’s goal, drew a penalty on Zdeno Chara and generally skated much better and seemed to have a bit more mustard on his shot.  We expected him to have a tough time with Chara in this series, but Nash did very well in Game One. Read more »

ECSF Game 1: Rangers at Bruins for first time in 40 years

Last time they played, Eddie was in net (Photo: AP).

Last time they played, Eddie was in net (Photo: AP).

The Rangers and Bruins are set to do battle in the playoffs for the first time in 40 years tonight. Over the past few seasons the Rangers and Bruins have grown a mutual respect for each other, as they both play the same type of game. That game being physical, winning board battles, and getting goals at even strength. They both have solid defense and an awful powerplay. This series will be won at 5 on 5. Be sure to check out all of our series preview posts, which will prep you for the next two weeks of grueling hockey.

Five keys for success against the Bruins
Rangers/Bruins second round preview
Scouting Tuukka Rask and his goaltending style
Previewing the Bruins and their systems/styles of play

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5 keys for success for the Rangers against the Bruins

Rick Nash will have his hands full with Zdeno Chara

Rick Nash will have his hands full with Zdeno Chara

A slew of injuries to Boston blueliners have some convinced the Rangers will roll through their second round matchup, but we should know by now that nothing comes easy for New York. Still, the Blueshirts have a good shot at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals if they follow these keys to victory.

Mitigate Boston’s advantage on faceoffs

It’s no coincidence that the team with the faceoff edge won five of seven games in New York’s first round matchup.  Sure, there’s more to it than that, but winning faceoffs is one way to guarantee puck possession.  For the second year in a row, Boston led the league in faceoff percentage by a wide margin, at 56.4%.  First round hero Patrice Bergeron (62.1%) is far and away the best faceoff man in the league and will be a handful in this series.  New York has been bipolar at the dots all year long, but the Rangers’ pivots will have to bring their “A” game to slow down Boston. Read more »

Scouting Tuukka Rask

Tuuuuukkkkkkkaaaaaa

After dispatching a tough Washington Capitals team in the first round, the Rangers have been rewarded with the Boston Bruins as their next opponent.  Boston is coming off a somewhat improbable victory over an upstart Maple Leafs squad who is trending in the right direction.  Opposing The King in this series will be former Maple Leaf, Tuukka Rask.

Rask is a former 1st round pick of the Leafs (21st overall), who was moved to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft (!) just before the 2007 season.  Rask was putting up solid numbers in Finland, but was just 19 years old at the time of the deal.  Toronto needed established goaltending now, and had Justin Pogge waiting in the wings.  This left Rask expendable, and former Bruin’s interim GM and current Rangers assistant GM, Jeff Gorton, was more than willing to make that deal.  Obviously, this one worked out well for Boston.  Rask made it over to North America in 2009-2010, and has been groomed as Boston’s goalie of the future ever since.

Ok, enough with the history lesson, let’s break down Rask’s game.  Since Tim Thomas was the starting goalie in Boston the last time I scouted the B’s, Rask gets the full format.  General style, strengths, weaknesses and how the Rangers should approach the matchup.  Here we go… Read more »

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:

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Previewing the Bruins and their styles of play

BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

The Rangers and the Bruins are set to do battle in the Eastern Conference Semis, and this series is expected to be as difficult a series as the Washington series. The Rangers haven’t faced the Bruins since the very beginning of the season, so their 2-0-1 record against the Bruins this season does not reflect the deadline deals that both teams made. Coming into the playoffs, the Rangers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and the Bruins were playing .500 hockey. Now they both have great momentum, with the Rangers taking the final two games against the Caps and the Bruins coming back from down 4-1 in the third to dispatch the Leafs in seven.

The Bruins and Rangers are very similar teams in makeup, but they play two very different styles of hockey. The Rangers are a very aggressive team, and the Bruins are the exact opposite. Boston plays a trapping style and a passive, physical game to wear down their opponents. The only similarity between the Rangers and the Bruins is that they are both stellar defensive teams.

Forechecking

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Rangers/Bruins series schedule

The schedule for the Rangers/Bruins series has been released:

  • Game One: 5/16, 7:30PM on NBCSN
  • Game Two: 5/19, 3PM on NBC
  • Game Three: 5/21, 7:30PM on NBCSN
  • Game Four: 5/23, 7PM on CNBC
  • Game Five: 5/25 Time TBA
  • Game Six: 5/27 Time TBA
  • Game Seven: 5/29 Time TBA

The extra day off before Game One and before Game Two will hopefully benefit a Rangers team ravaged by injuries, but I wouldn’t expect any of Marc Staal, Ryane Clowe, or Darroll Powe to play any time soon.

Rangers/Caps series, where it was won and where it could have been lost

Photo credit: ESPN

Photo credit: ESPN

The Rangers survived in seven games to upset the Caps in the first round in a series that really could have gone either way for six of the seven games. Two games went to overtime, three games were decided by a goal in regulation, and another game was decided by just two goals. The Caps led for under 35 minutes in the entire series, even though they dominated play and puck possession for the majority of the series. That said, out-puck-possessing doesn’t mean you win.

The Rangers got their share of luck, which certainly contributed to the win, but they also controlled play when they needed to in the games they won. They scored goals when they needed to, they killed penalties when they needed to, and they got stellar goaltending. But to play devil’s advocate, so did the Caps. In the end, the series was a toss-up. The coin came up heads, and the Rangers won.

Why they won – Goaltending

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ECQF Game Seven goal breakdown: Rangers send Caps home in dominating win

Well this was a convincing way to end the series. The Rangers made a statement in Game Seven, scoring five goals and shutting out the Caps to complete the comeback from down 3-2 in the series. Henrik Lundqvist was good when he needed to be, but the Rangers made sure he didn’t need to be dominant like he was in Game Six. They won the physical battles, and they finally found chinks in Holtby’s armor en route to the rout. There won’t be pictures for this breakdown, I apologize in advance for that. On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Caps 0

Chris Kreider got a big break on this one. As he was getting on the ice for a line change, he went over to pressure Eric Fehr instead of covering Mike Green, who was his man. Green wound up getting stopped by Hank on the breakaway, and Kreider eventually wound up with the puck gaining the Caps zone. He dropped the puck back to Arron Asham, who ripped it through Braden Holtby. Holtby looked to be a bit screened on the play.

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