PlayoffsState of the Rangers

Why the Rangers Can Replicate the Bruins (Part one)

It all starts with a simple formula. Be difficult to beat. Have a world class goaltender and a deep defensive corps. Be a gritty team and forecheck well. Don’t lose games on special teams. Then every now and again flash some offensive depth. The only significant difference between the Rangers and the Bruins appears to be the absence of a Zdeno Chara type defenseman (Dylan McIlrath has the potential to be similar down the road) and to the naked eye, the two teams seem similar in composition.

So what is it that makes the Bruins the new reigning Stanley Cup champions and the Rangers a young up and coming team that still has to battle just to make the playoffs? There are a few reasons for the difference in status even though there are many similarities. Let’s start by looking at the similarities.

Home Grown Core

The Bruins won the Cup on the back of a drafted core of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Taylor Seguin and Milan Lucic amongst the forwards. Their top three playoff scorers were Bruin draftees. Then look at the styles of some of these players. Marchand is the gritty, energetic two way presence (think Ryan Callahan), Milan Lucic is the power forward with skill (Brandon Dubinsky possesses some similar qualities), Krejci is the playmaking center (Derek Stepan?) and Tyler Seguin is the skilled young center making his way up the depth chart (Anisimov anyone?).

World Class Goaltending

Henrik Lundqvist meet Tim Thomas. If there was a better goaltender in the league than Tim Thomas from game 1 in October to game 7 in June I didn’t see him, but boy was Lundqvist close. Thomas benefitted from a healthier team, a more experienced team, and the presence of a Norris trophy monster on the blue line, but both clubs had the ability to steal games they had no right winning because of the guy in net. If you discuss the top goalies in the world right now, there’s no way these two aren’t at the forefront of the discussion.

Defensive Depth

This is an area where the teams are similar, but the Bruins are slightly more advanced. It all starts with Zdeno Chara for the Bruins and rightly so. No player in the league (on the blue line) possesses the same blend of size, skill and leadership as the Norris trophy winner. The only person that comes close to the same mix (at the same level of performance) is Shea Weber. Marc Staal is not at this level, but he could get there. Physical, big and absolutely core to the Rangers, Staal does a bit of everything for his team with perhaps even better shut down ability.

The main reason the Rangers defense lags behind right now, is Mike Del Zotto and Tomas Kaberle. The Bruins possess good puck moving ability with Kaberle (despite at times being maligned in the playoffs, he was still a solid addition), Dennis Seidenberg and of course Chara. The Rangers need an improved Del Zotto to compete in this area, but the Rangers defense does possess puck moving ability throughout the top 6. Both teams placed in the top 5 in goals against this year during the regular season.

Special Teams

It might surprise some people, but the Bruins were only 16th in the league on the penalty kill while the Rangers were 10th. The year before, the Bruins were 3rd and the Rangers 8th. Both teams have good defensive depth and it usually is reflected on the kill. Both teams can score on the PK (as the Bruins showed in game 7 of the Finals). Both teams were very similar on the PP, though neither would like to boast about their units. Despite both teams having depth at forward, the Rangers’ 16.9% and the Bruins 16.2% placed them 18th and 20th respectively. Not great at all. The Bruins would have benefited from a full year from Marc Savard while the Rangers are going to pursue Brad Richards in part for his powerplay prowess.

You want more similarities?

Both teams have placed recent emphasis on young players. The Bruins have recently integrated Seguin, Marchand and Adam McQuaid while they have solid additions on their way with Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner and Toronto’s high pick from this year’s draft to name a few. The Rangers have benefitted greatly this year from the integration of Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and can look forward to Chris Kreider, Christian Thomas and Carl Hagelin to name a few. The Bruins are more advanced because they moved prospects/picks for help (think Kaberle, Kelly, etc) and it paid off with the ultimate prize. However, in terms of future talent there is no doubt the Rangers have a lot to look forward to.

We’ve had a look at the similarities between the two sides and this list isn’t exhaustive; for example if you consider the actual depth of the forward groups beyond just the home grown cores. There was no need to spell out the obvious; original six franchises, droughts before each team’s recent cup wins etc. Check back to see what the key differences are, and why the Rangers can replicate the Bruins with a few changes.

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  1. I was thinking this very same thing at times throughout the playoffs, plus we did match up well with them this past year taking 3 of 4. Chara is of course next to impossible to duplicate when he is at the top of his game but the Rangers D IMO is not that far off.

    One of the keys to the Bruins success was a defense-first coaching philosophy and depth that allows Julien to roll all 4 lines. I am pleased with the job Torts has done so far but I don’t get why coaches don’t sometimes don’t use a 4th line to their advantage. I understand that the Rangers depth isn’t comparable to Boston’s but that is something the Rangers will need to address in order to take the next step.

    1. I don’t think there I much between the two teams depth wise.
      I also think torts needs to trust the 4th more. Maybe he will next yr with more talent to choose from

      1. Chris

        Great read here but you’re getting ahead of yourself.

        Gordie Clark was the guy who drafted Zdeno Chara (and Luongo) while he was an Islander GM.

        Jeff Gorton (Clark’s asst) was former Interim Boston GM, scout and ran the 2006 draft which netted them Lucic, Marchand and Kessel (who was turned into Seguin and a 2nd 1st this year)

        In addition to Gorton you also have Dan Dore who was one of Boston’s lead scouts. Gorton worked for Boston for 15 yrs and Dore 11.

        Now Clark, Gorton and Dore work for the Rangers. Let those 3 (and the other scouts) do their jobs and it will not be long before the Rangers hoist a cup of their own

      2. Chris, we definitely have some young depth on the way as Hagelin, Grachev, Weise, and AHLers such as Newbury battle for spots in camp. But what I meant was a 4th line of Wolski, Christensen and Zuccarello won’t cut is an energy line.

  2. I definitely think that the Rangers are doing IT the right way. They have so much young talent already infused, and so many intriguing players (i.e. Kreider, McIlrath, Thomas, Hagelin, etc.) on the way. All that this team is missing is a major high-end talent… which Kreider or Thomas ‘could’ become, but that is expecting way too much too early. I would much prefer if they can sign/obtain one in the next few years and just be lucky if those guys develop.

  3. It was a miracle that Boston won the cup this year,just the same as it would be a miracle if the Rangers would win within the next two years.There are other teams that have more depth in talent then either one of theese teams. The fact is that Vancouver way under acheeved and was out coached by Julian as well.Realistictly,it will be at least two more years before the Rangers can think of being serious conteders. That is if they continnue to develop home grown players wich the way to go. I have experianced too many disappointment in the last 47 yers to get too excited. (one cup in 71 years?)Pretty bad if you ask me.

    1. Being out coached isn’t a miracle. The Devils won quite a few Stanley Cups using the same tactics. The more skilled team doesn’t always win.

  4. I like the way our young talent grew this past year. If we have as much improvement this year and add some of the talent everyone is talking about, we could be a Cup contender in 2012 – 13.

  5. The Rangers need to add a couple of pieces via free agency w/out sacrificing their young talent. Brad Richards could be a good addition if Sather does not overpay – of course he will. But can anyone say (RFA) ZACH PARISE!!

    1. Keep dreaming bro. You have a better chance of seeing me wearing a “Scotty Hockey” Rangers jersey than you do seeing Zach in Broadway Blue.

      1. Is your team so pathetic that you have to sign onto ranger web sites to write comments,I truly do not understand why whenever I read this blog there are all sorts of comments from fans of other teams…get a life

    1. Seguin had 22 points this year in 74 games. That was 2nd overall pick. Anisimov’s point totals have jumped every year in the league and he is working really hard. He was interviewed and said he wants to be like Ovechkin and Malkin his Russian counterparts. Give Artie a chance.

  6. uhhhhhhh. That would be TYLER Seguin. LOL Wrong pick, TAYLOR Hall went to Edmonton.

  7. Well, we are one playmaker away from doing damage in the league. That’s why I like what Richards brings to the table. It’s not his goals totals. He will make players like Dubinsky and Gaborik better. And Marchand is dangerously close to Callahan. We have the Defense and we have the Goalie. We need to consistently put the puck in the back of the net.

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