If the last 10 minutes of Game 7 against the Maple Leafs was any indication on how the Bruins will win a hockey game, the Black and Gold must establish net front presence and crash the net versus Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers.
Lundqvist posted a 1.65 goals against average against the Washington Capitals in their Round 1 match-up where he posted back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 after his team was down 3-2 in the series.
The key to scoring on Lundqvist is to get the big bodies of Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara in front of the net. It is very rare that Lundqvist doesn’t save a puck he sees all the way through. The Rangers will have a layer of defensemen in front of their goaltender and the B’s must counter by getting inside position and making it very difficult for Lundqvist to see.
The B’s had a very difficult time establishing net front presence against the Leafs until the final minutes in Game 7. On the game-tying goal, who was blocking the view of James Reimer? 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara. That must happen again. The B’s need to make Lundqvist uncomfortable.
The Rangers are a great shot-blocking team so, patience and an extra pass, or two could pay dividends for the B’s. Make that extra pass, get inside position down low on Lundqvist and be physical.
I would make Lucic a permanent resident in the crease of Lundqvist because all B’s fans know when Lucic is playing at his best he is physical, skating north to south and is establishing himself in front of the opponent’s goaltender.
Yesterday during his press conference with the media, General Manger Peter Chiarelli reiterated that net-front presence and net drive will be the key in the upcoming series with the Rangers.
“Yeah, that’s part of our game, our identity,” Chiarelli said. “You’ve heard me talking about straight lines, getting pucks deep; you’ve heard our coaching staff talk about that. That has to continue. They play like us, these guys. Maybe a little different now that they don’t have Gaborik. They might be a little bit deeper, but not as dynamic. They play a heavy game like us.”
Chiarelli also talked about what the Black and Gold has to do to be successful against Henrik Lundqvist.
“There’s no magic,” Chiarelli said. “You just have to have the commitment to do that, so he’s played us tough, though, and kind of a different than who we faced. We finished our games with them in the first three weeks or something. Different team, so we’ll have to take that into account also.”
It is no secret that the key to this series is to create traffic, have net drive and make Lundqvist uncomfortable. The B’s will need to get back to playing their brand of hockey and if they can repeat their performance in the last 10 minutes of Game 7 plus overtime, they should have a good shot at winning this series.
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