NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 – NY RANGERS vs BOSTON
SERIES BEGINS: THURSDAY 16th MAY 2013
NEXT GAME: TUESDAY 21st MAY 2013 @ 7:30PM ET (12:30AM GMT)
Many apologies for the delay on this post, due to technical difficulties over the last few days (broken laptop!) I was unable to get this up sooner.
HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? Despite a mediocre regular season, the Rangers are right back in contention now the playoffs are underway. They managed to take their opening series against the Washington Capitals in a 7 game slog despite getting off to a 2-0 start, and are a generally pretty well rounded team. In the regular season they scored more than they allowed and had a dominant home record, although they did struggle a bit on the road. In the first round they both scored and allowed 2.22 goals per game, and will need to put forth more offensive effort if they hope to get past the stingy Bruins. That total isn’t helped by their anemic powerplay, that at just 5.6% was kept off the bottom spot of all 16 playoff teams only by Minnesota’s 0.0% success rate. With the likes of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Michael Del Zotto on the team, that just isn’t acceptable.
Derick Brassard is the surprise playoff star for the Rangers so far this year, with 10 points in 9 games, and this looks like a bit of a break-out stretch for him after years of struggling to establish himself in the league. Rick Nash only has 4 points in 9 games, including just one goal, whilst Stepan only has 3 points – all goals – in 9 games; those players were the top scorers for the team during the regular season, and must step up if this team wants to get it done against the Bruins. Brad Richards has been even worse with just one measly goal in 9 games, and is firmly in John Tortorella’s dog house at the moment, finding himself on the 4th line at times. The team is playing pretty well defensively, it’s just the offence that isn’t there, and have been helped tremendously as usual by Vezina nominee Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
The Bruins had a great season by most accounts, and were effective at both ends of the ice, at home and on the road. They don’t have a standout offensive star, although Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci and Seguin are all highly capable – and certainly Seguin could end up as a point-per-game player – and of course Lucic can score pretty handily, though was certainly disappointing this season until the playoffs. Where the team really excels is in playing a defensive, puck possession game similar to the LA Kings. They’re big and heavy, and can play keep-away all day long. They were expected to easily defeat the Maple Leafs in the first round, but found themselves right on the edge of defeat in a shocking Game 7, right up until Milan Lucic willed the team to a win with scant minutes to spare. They may have prevailed, but much like the Pittsburgh Penguins in their matchup with the Islanders, they don’t look quite so immortal.
In the playoffs, the team has scored 3.3 goals per game and allowed 2.44, so are fairly handily outscoring their opponents, and continue to play their strong possession game. Offensively they are being led by David Krejci, who has been outstanding so far with 16 points in just 9 games, and Milan Lucic who has really elevated his game at the right time. Captain and outstanding defender Zdeno Chara has also been fantastic, piling up 10 points, a +7 rating and 38 hits. Seguin and Chris Kelly have been somewhat disappointing, with only 1 point between them and a combined -7 rating, but the team overall is playing so well that offence from those two isn’t missed quite so much. Tuukka Rask has been pretty good, though not dominant, but is far from the problem with the team.
PREDICTION: The series is obviously well under way, with Boston leading 2-0, but this prediction is going to be what I would have said before the start of it. The Rangers did extremely well in making it this far, and have some outstanding talent on their team. That said, they’re up against a big, heavy, talented Bruins team with vast experience and a superior record in most disciplines, and I can’t see them making it out of this round. Boston in 5 games.