The Bruins and Rangers will meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1973; a series the Rangers won four games to one. The two original six rivals have met in the postseason nine times with the Bruins winning six of those nine series including the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers won the season series against the Bruins this year with wins in two of three; neither Rangers win came in regulation.
The Rangers roster looks a differently than It did the last time these two teams met as the Rangers traded Marion Gaborik at the National Hockey League trade deadline to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore. Gaborik was the leading scorer for the Rangers against the Bruins this season.
Let’s take a look at five keys for a Bruins series victory over the Rangers.
Will the real Marchand and Seguin please stand up
After combining for 68 points during the regular season, Brad Marchand—who left today’s morning skate after it looked like he may have pulled something, but will play tonight—and Tyler Seguin combined for just four points in the Bruins seven game series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Seguin had chances in the series against the Leafs with 29 shots, but Seguin just couldn’t find the back of the net. Marchand’s struggles were much worse as No. 63 seemed to shy away from his offensive ways that have brought him nothing but success over the past two seasons. The Bruins need to get Marchand and Seguin going in order to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bruins need to dethrone “King Henrik”
There may not be a goalie in the world better than Henrik Lundqvist. The Bruins know that from firsthand experience. “King Henrik” enters the series with a 1.67 goals-against average against the Bruins; Lundqvist has a 21-7 record to go along with it. Lundqvist got off to a slow start in the Rangers series against the Capitals, but down three games to two, and their season on the line, No. 30 was stellar with back-to-back shutouts in Game 6 and 7. The Bruins know it’s not easy to get pucks past Lundqvist, getting bodies to the net and jumping on those rare loose rebounds will be huge for the Bruins.
Young defensemen need to shine
Matt Bartkowski, (24) Dougie Hamilton (19) and Torey Krug (22) will be three of your six defensemen in the lineup when the Bruins hit the ice for Game 1 Thursday night. Injuries to Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden have opened the door for these three youngsters. Bartkowski was one of the best Bruins defensemen in Game 7, as the 24 year old even picked up his first career National Hockey League goal. Hamilton was good at times in Game 7, but still looked a bit uncomfortable. Krug is a smaller defenseman who brings more of an offensive game to the table. Krug is good at getting the puck out of the zone quickly and is a smart player. The Rangers boast a group of big powerful forwards; these three kids will need to step up their physicality for as long as they’re in the lineup.
Tuukka needs to continue to be Tuukka
If it wasn’t for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins would have never made it to Game 7 as Rask was one of, if not the best Bruin in the series against the Maple Leafs. The Bruins need Rask to continue that way in order to have a chance against the Rangers. Much like the Bruins, the Rangers have issues putting the puck in the net, but have guys who certainly know how to score and can break out at any given moment. If the Bruins can allow Rask to see pucks and clear the traffic around the net that the Rangers will bring, Rask and the Bruins should be just fine.
Bruins need to keep Rangers stars in slumps
The Rangers have one talented group of forwards, that’s no secret. In their series win against the Capitals, it wasn’t their usual suspects that carried them to victory, it was their depth guys. In this series, the Bruins need to keep those big guns quiet, just like the Capitals did. The Rangers big three of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan paved the way for the Rangers in the regular season as that dynamic trio made up the Rangers top three point scorers. In the payoffs thus far, those three have been a complete non-factor–to his credit, Stepan’s two goals were both game winning goals– with just three goals and two assists, none of those goals coming from Nash. If the Bruins hope to have success in this series, the Bruins will need to keep those three off the scoring sheet.