Eastern Conference Preview: Bruins VS Rangers

By Joe Kremel

Bruins And Rangers Look To Square Off After Both Teams Won Their Game 7 To Advance. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

THU MAY 16, 2013   @ Boston   7:30   RDS, TSN, NBCSN

SUN May 19, 2013   @ Boston   3:00   RDS, TSN, NBC

TUE MAY 21, 2013   @ New York   7:30   RDS, TSN, NBCSN

THU May 23, 2013   @ New York   7:00   RDS, TSN, CNBC

The Summary: The Bruins went 28-14-6 this season with 62 points, and the Rangers are 26-18-4 with 56 points.  Both teams had to win a game seven to advance, but each team won their game in dramatically different fashions.  Boston pulled off a miracle come back within the final 10 minutes of the game to tie it up and then win it in overtime.  The Rangers found their offensive touch and came away with a clean 5-0 win over the Capitals. Boston has Lucic and Krejci creating some great offense, but Seguin and Peverly have struggled.  The Rangers offense has been fairly well spread with Brassard leading the campaign, but the Rangers are relying heavily on Lundqvist to pull out wins.  Neither team is playing to their full potential, and both have slumping players that could potentially swing the series their way if they can get going.

The Season: The Rangers won two of three meetings over the regular season, but Boston got a point in both losses leaving both teams with four out of six points.  Each team scored nine goals, and both goalies were nearly identical with Lundqvist edging out Rask with a .911 SV% over Rask’s .909 SV%.  Lucic, Horton, and Marchand each had two goals in the series.  The Rangers had Gaborik put up three goals, but no one else put up more than a goal for the Rangers.  The main issue for the Rangers is the obvious fact that Gaborik is no longer there, and to make matters worse, no one has the scoring touch right now.  Both goalies played fairly average games in the series, so it will be interesting to see which team can kick it into the next gear.

The Reality: This matchup is a close one.  Each team is having some glaring problems, and it most likely will come down to which team can get their slumping players back into form.  The Bruins seemed to have found that extra something in the comeback win which could carry over nicely into the second round. On the other hand, the Rangers have finally been able to find the back of the net.  With Rask and an overall better D pairing, Nash and Richards will need to be contributors if the Rangers want to advance past Boston.

The Prediction: 4-2 Boston with Bergeron building off of his clutch performance in game seven.  It really looked like something clicked for Boston in the second half of the third, and I don’t think they are going to regress after that close call.  Seguin is in the slump category, but he hasn’t been terrible.  He has 29 shots, which is second on the team, and he is due to put one in very soon.  When that happens, Boston will be looking even more dangerous.  It is also worth noting that this could turn into some really hard hitting hockey which tends to favor the Bruins’ style.

The Upset:  Just like most of the season for the Rangers, this will fall heavily on Lundqvist’s shoulders.  He was phenomenal against the Capitals, but even so, he can’t do it alone.  Nash and Richards will need to heat up.  Three points in seven games doesn’t cut it when they were expected to be factors in every game.  Brassard will need to continue with his outstanding playoff performance.  He has been the best player for the Rangers not named Lundqvist.  The Rangers are a very hard working team on both sides of the puck, and they will need to continue that team game if they wish to upset the Bruins.