Bruins: New York Rangers

BOSTON -- Good evening from TD Garden, where the Boston Bruins are set to host the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Bruins hold a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series and have a chance to close it out tonight. Boston dropped Game 4 in overtime to the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins played well, but two mistakes cost them the game as the Rangers erased a 2-0 deficit and eventually won 4-3 in OT.

As puck drop for Game 5 approaches, the Bruins have already put that loss in the books.

"We shouldn't be satisfied with what happened last game," said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. "You know their backs are against the wall, they were last game and they're again tonight. They're going to bring everything they have and we have to be better tonight."

The Bruins' game plan won't change, and they know another strong start will be one of the keys, especially on home ice.

"We've been in situations like this and we still need to be composed and poised," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "It's one thing to come out hard and make sure you're physical and first on the puck, but also stick to the system and stick to the game plan and don't get yourself caught and lose your position just to get a big hit or something like that. It's about staying composed but playing hard and making sure we're first on the puck."

Since the Rangers were a desperate team entering Game 4, Rangers coach John Tortorella tweaked his lineup and his players were a bit more physical with the Bruins. There were plenty of instances during that game when the Rangers tried to bait a few of the Bruins into dropping the gloves to no avail.

"I'll get 'em off. I don't care," Thornton said. "I think it was [Rangers forward Kris] Newbury that was asking me. I didn't know if he was trying to [bait] me into getting him off or if he was going to get them off. Our line's been fairly good but at the same time, whether it's playoffs or regular season, we had just scored our second goal and I felt we had momentum and that was more of a reason than anything else. I probably wouldn't have fought at that time of the game. It's the same if they're up 2-0, I'm sure we'd try to change momentum, it would be the same way. I wouldn't read too much into it other than the fact that I've been doing this for a long time and I've kind of figured out when and when not to do it."

B's expect Rangers' best in New York

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
2:44
PM ET
BOSTON -- This Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers shifts Tuesday to Madison Square Garden for Game 3. The Bruins hold a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

In the first two games at TD Garden, Boston beat New York 3-2 (OT) and 5-2, respectively. Now that the Rangers have home ice for the next two games, the Bruins are expecting a better opponent.

“I’m expecting a desperate team,” said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. “They’re going to step up their game and we’re going to have to be a lot better, too. Going into their building, they’re traditionally a pretty strong team in that rink and it’s not an easy rink to play in, so we’re going to have to be better.”

The Bruins are 21-7 lifetime when leading a best-of-seven series 2-0, and they’re also 18-10 in Game 3s when leading by two games.

During the Bruins’ first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston was challenged with too many inconsistencies in its game. The Bruins now have a three-game winning streak in tact and they’re building more confidence. When asked what he expects from the Rangers in Game 3 at MSG, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he’s only focused on his team and nothing else.

“It’s what we expect from ourselves,” Julien said. “That’s the thing, we always worry about the other team; we need to worry about ourselves. When we play well, we’re a good team and we give ourselves a chance to win. It’s more about our expectations right now that has to be the important topic for us. We need to, obviously, understand they’re going to be better; we also need to be better. We’re on the road, we don’t get the last change, so it will be a tougher situation.”

The Bruins have won many of the battles along the boards, in the corners and in front of the net, which is one big reason for their success. New York coach John Tortorella was not pleased with his team’s overall performance in the first two games of this series and he expects more in Game 3.

“We didn’t want to lose two games here. No one does. But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team. Again, we need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series,” Tortorella said after Game 2.

The Rangers also trailed the Washington Capitals by two games in the quarterfinals before New York responded and eventually won that series in seven games. The Rangers are 2-19 lifetime when trailing 0-2 in a best-of-seven series.

Former Ranger and current Bruins defenseman Wade Redden knows exactly the type of atmosphere Boston will be walking into Tuesday night.

“Probably won’t be a warm reception,” Redden said.

Game 2 Reaction: Bruins 5, Rangers 2

May, 19, 2013
5/19/13
6:21
PM ET


BOSTON -- The Bruins are headed to the Big Apple with a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals after a decisive 5-2 win in Game 2.

Torey Krug and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist, and Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell and Milan Lucic also lit the lamp for Boston. Only Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash could beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 35 saves. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a game to forget, allowing five goals on 32 shots.

Boychuk the playoff warrior -- In addition to a rocket of a slapshot that found the net for the third time in the playoffs Sunday, Boychuk also has some kind of pain threshold. Remember, the Bruins rearguard was injured early in Game 1; after laying motionless for 10 seconds and then showing signs of alertness and skating to the bench, Boychuk missed only one shift and returned to play 26:55. Apparently it will take more than a dangerous head shot for Boychuk to miss quality time.

Marchand and Bergy connect again -- It’s rare that a team can score on the same play against the same team two games in a row. But that is just what the Bruins did when Bergeron found Marchand with the same feed in front that he did when he set Marchand up for the overtime winner in Game 1. Bergeron’s vision was on full display, as he also assisted on Boychuk’s game-winner. But the Rangers have to be wondering how they got beat again on the same play.

Rask even-keeled -- Rask hasn’t been tested a lot in this series thus far but when he has, he has done his job. In Game 2, he had some long stretches of no action and then some stretches of furious action. Yes, he gave up two goals, but neither could be blamed on him and overall he has been solid when needed. But besides Rask making saves, he is having even more of a presence helping the young defensemen with improved puck-handling starting plays out of the zone.

Thornton called it -- Speaking to the media prior to Game 2, Thornton seemed to have an inclination that he and his linemates Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell would finally breakthrough after numerous chances in the past few games. Thornton’s hunch was correct as Campbell got his first goal of the playoffs 2:24 into the middle frame. The energy line, as they’re known, was a constant factor with their physical presence, forecheck and scoring chances.

Krug continues to be a factor -- Krug continues to look very comfortable in the Stanley Cup Playoffs atmosphere. The footwork and stickwork Krug showed on his first-period goal was impressive. This kid is living in the moment, and if he cleans up his turnovers he will all but have a spot cemented in Boston when he shows up for training camp next September.

Defense giveth, taketh away and taketh back -- The Bruins' defense played a role in almost every goal in Game 2. It accounted for six points with Krug’s two points, Boychuk’s goal, and Hamilton, Bartkowski and McQuaid all getting helpers. But they also were in a giving mood, as the team finished with 16 turnovers -- many from the defense -- and some of them costly and leading to goals. Obviously the team welcomes the offense from the back end, but at times it appeared as if they got a little too excited or overconfident with the puck and made some blind passes in front or out to the point. Hamilton, Krug and Boychuk all need to make smarter passes coming out of the Bruins' zone.

B's draw positives from Leafs series

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
2:25
PM ET
BOSTON -- The Bruins didn’t play their best until it counted most in their dramatic seven-game series win over the Maple Leafs that propelled them into a second-round matchup with the Rangers that starts tonight. But while some are pointing out the negatives in that series and saying the Bruins need to be better against the Rangers if they are to advance, coach Claude Julien is approaching it differently.

When asked if this series is a chance for a fresh start for some of his players, Julien seemed a bit defensive and stressed the character his team showed in the first round, specifically in their miraculous comeback win in Game 7.

“It depends who you are,” Julien said. “For some reason, this last series seems to have been looked upon as negative for some people. For us, it was a great character win, we’re looking forward to moving ahead and we’re not looking at it the way a lot of people are looking at it. It’s not a chance to redeem yourself, because we’re in the second round -- we don’t have to redeem ourselves for anything. What we have to do here is look forward to this series and do whatever we can to move ahead. The character win that this team showed in Game 7 should be looked upon as a positive. That’s the way I look at it.”

One player who has repeatedly acknowledged he can be better is Tyler Seguin, who had just an assist in the Toronto series. While Seguin and his teammates will try to build off the momentum of that comeback win in Game 7, they realize a new opponent and series is upon them and they can’t rest on their laurels.

“You try to take the momentum [from Game 7], but I think our team does really well trying to keep an even keel game to game,” Seguin said. “Obviously you can’t look past how much emotion was put into the last game but walking out of here [Monday] we wanted to make sure we enjoyed it but we knew that we had to turn right around here and get ready for tonight.”

Seguin and the Bruins also know that they can’t expect to pull off a comeback like that every game. While the Bruins have been able to dig deep, use some luck, and come back to win after tough starts, he says things would be a lot easier if they used their desperation mentality earlier in the game.

“Well, we seem to win when we do it that way,” Seguin joked of the slow starts. “But of course you don’t want to play that way and be inconsistent. It’d be nice to go out there and pop a couple goals in early and play our game. We need to not always get down two goals and have to fight back. I think if we can find that team that we are when we get down two goals in a game but not be down two goals, and stay consistent with that, we’ll be a lot better.”

Video: Bruins vs. Rangers preview

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
1:06
PM ET


Joe McDonald and Katie Strang preview the Eastern Conference semifinal showdown between the Bruins and the Rangers, which kicks off tonight at 7:30 in Boston.

NHL scout identifies B's keys vs. Rangers

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
10:39
PM ET
BOSTON -- When you compare the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers, both teams are similar. Both teams are big, physical and talented.

Looking at this Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, with the exception of goaltending, there's no other area in which one team is better than the other. It's going to be a straight-up grudge match. There are no secrets in this series. Bruins coach Claude Julien and Rangers coach John Tortorella know each other well and know each other's systems.

[+] EnlargeNew York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty ImagesRangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has a great track record against the Bruins.
This is the type of series that will be determined in the "battle areas" along the boards, in the corners and in front of the net, according to one NHL scout familiar with both teams.

"Boston plays a gritty style, and New York does, too," the scout said. "The Bruins are a puck-pursuit team, and the Rangers are, too. Those battle areas will be the key to the series. The team that wins those areas will be the team that has success. It's going to be a hard-fought series. It'll be a great series. Both teams are pretty good hockey teams."

It's actually tough to give either team the edge in this series because they play similar styles, but here are a few things the Bruins can do in order to have success.

The Rangers have the clear edge in net. There's no denying the talent of the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Henrik Lundqvist. He owns a 21-7-2 record in 30 career games against the Bruins, including a 1.67 goals-against average, a .943 save percentage and six shutouts.

"He's good against everybody, not just the Bruins," said the scout. "He's a real competitor and he loves to win. You can't count him out because he's always trying to make that next save and that's his biggest strength as a goaltender. When the stakes get high, that's when he plays better."

Rask has played only nine games against the Rangers during his NHL career, going 3-3-3 with a 2.09 GAA and a .928 save percentage. This season, he was 1-0-2 against New York. The Rangers' game plan to beat Rask is a logical one, but New York still needs to execute it.

"It's no different than any other quality goaltender," the scout said. "The key is New York has to make it hard on him. You have to try to take his vision and mobility away. Rask is a more aggressive goaltender than Lundqvist. Henrik tends to play deep, where Rask comes out and challenges. The more New York can get traffic in front of him and limit his mobility and vision, it will be harder for Rask to play the type of game he wants to play, and that will also make it more difficult for him to control his rebounds."

As far as line matchups, each team's top two lines carry an impressive skill set. The bottom two lines on each side play more of the grind game. Here's where the Bruins need consistency. Boston's top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton is strong from a skill standpoint, and they proved it for the majority of the quarterfinal series against the Maple Leafs. That trio combined for 29 points in seven games. They'll need to use a little more muscle against the Rangers in order to have similar success in this round. The Bruins' second line will be key, too, depending on which winger will be on the right side of Patrice Bergeron. Based on Wednesday's practice, Jaromir Jagr, who played on that line during Monday's Game 7 win, was back with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Tyler Seguin remained with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley on the third line.

Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Boston Bruins
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty ImagesWill Jaromir Jagr click with his B's linemates?
"There's always some adjustment with new linemates. [Jagr] obviously likes to keep his speed and read the play, so it's up to me to read where he's going, as well, so we're on the same page," Bergeron said. "We need to be talking and create some chemistry together. I thought we had some really good looks and some really good chances, and if we stay hard on the puck in the offensive zone, which we should be, against the Rangers it's going to be tough to get those pucks to go in. We have to make sure we're hard and we're strong and if we do that we're going to get some good looks."

In overtime of Game 7, Julien put Marchand, Bergeron and Seguin back together, and that line produced the game-winning goal against the Maple Leafs. If Julien decides to keep that trio together for this next series, it needs to produce more against the Rangers.

In their quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers blocked a total of 161 shots in seven games. That's a lot of bumps and bruises. In fact, the Rangers are considered one of the best teams in the league in this category. Julien and the Bruins are 100 percent certain the Rangers will continue to block shots. If the Bruins can limit New York's chances, Boston should have a better chance of beating Lundqvist.

"It's important for any team to win," the scout said of blocking shots. "The way teams defend nowadays, everybody collapses coverage and brings numbers down below the tops of the circles, so one of the ways you play against it is you use the points. Part of being good in your own zone is denying the opportunity of the puck getting to the net, and blocking shots is a big part of that. The Rangers have a team of players that buy into that philosophy and are willing to make the sacrifices to deny that puck from getting there. It's an important aspect for New York."

In the spring of 2012, the Bruins learned first-hand how a team with an effective shot-blocking system can beat them. The Washington Capitals blocked a total of 141 shots in seven games during their quarterfinal series against Boston. In the three games the Bruins did win, Washington's blocked-shot totals were much lower in the games the Capitals won.

"It's about finding different ways and faking some shots," Bergeron said. "At the same time, we need to create our chances, create some havoc in front of Lundqvist and get to the loose pucks, loose rebounds. We know it's part of the game and they will block some shots, but it's about fighting through it."

New York and Boston are once again pretty similar in terms of their special teams. Their respective power-play units were dreadful during the regular season. The Rangers finished 23rd in the league with a 15.7 percent success rate. In their first-round series against the Capitals, New York went 2-for-28 on the PP. The Bruins ranked 25th during the regular season and went 3-for-20 against the Maple Leafs.

"Both teams will obviously do their best to try to improve in those areas because obviously the power play has a chance to be difference-makers in games," the scout said.

On the flip side, both penalty-killing units are effective. Boston's PK ranked fourth during the season and killed off 16 of 21 short-handed situations against Toronto. New York finished the season 15th and killed off 16 of 18 against the Capitals.

The Rangers have won 11 of their past 15 regular-season games against the Bruins, including seven of their past nine. New York is 22-7-2 against Boston since 2005-2006. In Boston, the Rangers are 5-1-0 in their past six games at TD Garden, and have outscored the Bruins 15-10 in that span. These teams have been separated by one goal in 19 of their past 24 games, including eight games that required overtime and six that went to a shootout, dating back to March 24, 2007. But this is the Stanley Cup playoffs, and these teams have not met in the postseason in 40 years.

Jagr reflects on time with Rangers

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
10:13
PM ET
BOSTON -- Jaromir Jagr was in a mood to reminisce Wednesday as he prepared to face his former team, the New York Rangers, in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jagr was asked if there's any between his play now and when he spent four seasons with the Blueshirts in 2004-2008, including a brilliant 54 goals and 123 points in 2005-06.

[+] EnlargeJagr
John Tlumacki/Getty Images"I have a lot of good memories in New York," Jaromir Jagr said Wednesday.
"I'm not good now. I was a lot better hockey player then, when I was in New York," Jagr said with a laugh. "Of course I'm different. I am honest. I cannot lie."

But the jovial Jagr -- who many say is more laidback these days than when he was playing in the Big Apple -- had nothing but good things to say about his time with the Rangers.

"I have a lot of good memories in New York," Jagr said. "All of the years, we made the playoffs. In the first year nobody believed we could make the playoffs, and we did it. My first year was [Henrik Lundqvist's] first year and Tom Renney's first year as a coach. We had such a good group of players and we surprised everybody. Such good memories in that hockey time for me."

Speaking of Lundqvist, he could be the biggest obstacle the Bruins face in trying to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Lundqvist enters the series on the heels of two shutout wins in the Rangers' seven-game series win over the Capitals and can easily steal a series.

"He's just a good goalie," Jagr said of the goalie known as King Henrik. "I never studied the goalie position and I've never been a goalie coach, so I don't know why he's good. He's good because he stops most of the pucks. He's tough to score on and he doesn't make mistakes. As far as he goes, the team goes. It's always been like that since I was there. He's the most important guy on that team."

Bruins-Rangers scouting report

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
9:58
PM ET
The Boston Bruins narrowly escaped a first-round upset loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins almost blew a 3-1 series lead, but they were able to rally back from a 4-1 third-period deficit and cap a historic comeback by beating Toronto in overtime to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But if the Bruins decide to rest on their laurels the way they have so many times this season, then this could be a quick series. The New York Rangers are a much more formidable, stronger team than the Maple Leafs. These Rangers finally seem to be fulfilling their potential. Here's the scouting report:

SportsNation

Who will win the Bruins-Rangers series?

  •  
    48%
  •  
    52%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,789)

Records


Bruins: 4-3 in playoffs. 28-14-6, 62 points, fourth in Eastern Conference, second in Northeast Division in regular season.

Rangers: 4-3 in playoffs. 26-18-4, 56 points, sixth in Eastern Conference, second in Atlantic Division in regular season.

Head-to-head: The Rangers won the season series 2-1-0. After the Bruins took the season opener against the Rangers at TD Garden with a 3-1 victory, the Rangers took the teams' next two matchups at Madison Square Garden, winning 4-3 in overtime and 4-3 in a shootout.

Forwards


BruinsBruins: The Bruins have scored 17 goals in the playoffs thus far. David Krejci leads the way with five lamplighters and eight assists in seven games. Krejci and linemates Milan Lucic (two goals, seven assists) and Nathan Horton (four goals, three assists) have been sparking the Bruins' offense. Other than Patrice Bergeron, who came alive with two goals and an assist in the epic Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs, the Bruins have not had the scoring balance they will need against the stingy Rangers and goalie Henrik Lundqvist. If the depth up front doesn't come through in this series, the Bruins will have a hard time winning. All a very solid Rangers defense will need to do is shut down the Lucic-Krejci-Horton line and the Bruins will be in trouble. That is why the rest of the forwards, specifically Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, must step up.

RangersRangers: The Rangers are similar to the Bruins in that they play a heavy game. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli noted that the Rangers are missing a scoring dynamic with the loss of Marian Gaborik. But the Rangers' sum of parts adds up to a gritty team, like the Bruins. Still, while it's great that Derek Brassard, who came over from Columbus in the Gaborik trade, has nine points in the playoffs, the Rangers will also need their scorers to step up. That hasn't happened yet as Rick Nash has no goals and just two assists and Brad Richards has one goal.

Edge: Even. Right now, both teams need more balance up front. The Bruins and Rangers need more of their usual goal scorers to find the net and could also use more contributions from depth players.

Defense


Bruins: When healthy and playing to their potential, they Bruins' defensemen can be one of the most well-rounded blue-line groups in the NHL. They were not playing to their potential when healthy against the Maple Leafs, and now they are not healthy. Boston will likely start this series without Wade Redden, Andrew Ference and possibly Dennis Seidenberg, who has become a premier minutes-eater and shutdown defenseman. It appears the Bruins will need to depend on their youth in Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug. If all three play, that would mean that half of the Bruins' six defensemen to start this series would be rookies. But besides their youth, all three rookies will not bring the physical prowess that Seidenberg and Ference can bring and maybe not the calmness that Redden brings. Their inexperience could make it very difficult to match up against the big and gritty Rangers forwards. The B's three young defensemen can bring offense and help the power play, but can they take the physical toll the Rangers will put on them? Will captain Zdeno Chara wear down from logging all the extra minutes in the absence of Seidenberg and Ference?

RangersRangers: While the Bruins might gain some offensive punch from their rookie trio of Bartkowski, Krug and Hamilton, don't expect too much offense from the Rangers' blue line. The Rangers don't have many offensive-minded defensemen. But they get the job done in their own end by utilizing shot-blocking, size and toughness. Players like Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto can bring the noise when it comes to hitting and making opposing forwards pay. In what should be a stingy series, that will make it difficult for Bruins forwards to create space and scoring chances.

Edge: Rangers, because of their size, shot-blocking and overall grit.

Goalies


Bruins: Tuukka Rask is 4-3 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in the playoffs thus far, but those stats would be much better if he had had a team in front of him that was playing better team defense. Rask was solid in every game against the Maple Leafs and on more than one occasion bailed his team out or at least gave the team a chance to win. As this second round begins, Rask is the least of the Bruins' worries and the one factor they know they can count on.

RangersRangers: Lundqvist is once again King, and as former Ranger Jaromir Jagr said on Wednesday, “As Hank goes, the Rangers go.” Right now Lundqvist is going, as he is 4-3 with a 1.65 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in the playoffs. Lundqvist was a major factor as the Rangers recovered from a 2-0 series deficit against the Capitals, and he will be difficult to beat for the Bruins.

Edge: Rangers. This by no means is a knock on Rask, but at this point, Rask is not quite the elite goalie that Lundqvist is.

Power Play


Bruins: The Bruins are 3-for-20 on the power play thus far in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but while they surely would like some more goals, there have been signs that the power play is improving. They are moving the puck better overall and, with the exception of Game 7, appear to be looking for the right play rather than the pretty play.

Rangers: The Rangers' power play is actually worse than the Bruins' power play, as New York has gone 2-for-28 in the playoffs. The Rangers' big guns, such as Nash and Richards, aren't getting the job done.

Edge: Even. This series will be won 5-on-5.

Penalty Kill


Bruins: The Bruins have allowed five goals on 21 power-play attempts against them in the playoffs. Their penalty kill has not been the amazing, shutdown crew it was for three-quarters of the regular season, but this is not an area of concern for Boston. Against a woeful Rangers power play, it shouldn't be an issue.

Rangers: The Rangers have been even better than the Bruins on the penalty kill, allowing just three goals on 16 attempts in the playoffs. Like the Bruins, the Rangers' PK is a pesky and opportunistic group and should make it difficult for the Bruins to get their power play on the scoreboard.

Edge: Even. Again, don't expect special teams to play a major role in this series.

Coaching


Bruins: Claude Julien was under heavy scrutiny as many (including this scribe) believed his job was in jeopardy heading into Game 7 with the Maple Leafs. But the Bruins became the first team to rally from a three-goal, third-period deficit in a Game 7, and Julien has lived to see another day. His job security shouldn't even have been an issue in the first place, as he has already proven himself by winning a Cup and dealing the best he could with an underachieving roster. He was a major reason the Bruins came back to win in Game 7 and he will be a major reason the Bruins advance if they're able to beat the Rangers.

Rangers: John Tortorella is one of the most boisterous and controversial coaches in the NHL. But he has won a Stanley Cup, and regardless of whether or not his players like him, they play for him. Tortorella helped his team weather an up-and-down season after being a popular preseason pick for the Stanley Cup. If the Rangers do fulfill those predictions, he would be a major reason why.

Edge: Even. Two great coaches should make for a strategic series between the Bruins and Rangers.

Prediction


RangersRangers in 6: The Rangers were heavy preseason favorites to be the 2013 Stanley Cup champions but until recently haven't shown signs that they could be. Much like the Bruins, the Rangers have some underachievers and haven't consistently played their game. But the playoffs can bring out the best in teams, and that is going to happen for one team here. The bet is that with a banged-up defense, even if the best comes out in the Bruins, they won't be able to handle the Rangers' best.

Goalie showdown: Rask vs. Lundqvist

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
5:59
PM ET
Tuukka Rask, Henrik Lundqvist Getty Images
BOSTON -- A lot of focus during this Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers will be on the opposing goaltenders.

At one end of the ice is the Bruins' Tuukka Rask. At the other end of the ice is the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist. While Lundqvist is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goaltender and has plenty of postseason experience, Rask only recently won his second Stanley Cup playoff series.

Lundqvist was one of the main reasons the underdog Rangers beat the Washington Capitals in their first-round series, and the same can be said for Rask's performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs. On paper, there's no denying who the better goaltender is, but this series both goalies will be tested, so it'll be interesting to see which one will be the last one standing.

"I don't want to think too much about these goalie matchups," Rask said. "I think it's team against team in the first place. He's a great goalie and he's been around for a while and I don't think he's had a bad year. He's had some ups and downs during the years, but he always came out on top at the end. I've been watching him a lot and I really think he's a great goalie. It should be an interesting matchup."

Lundqvist is 21-7-2 with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage in 30 career games against the Bruins.

"He's good against everybody, not just the Bruins," said one NHL scout familiar with both teams. "He's a real competitor and he loves to win. You can't count him out because he's always trying to make that next save and that's his biggest strength as a goaltender. When the stakes get high, that's when he plays better."

Rask has played only nine games against the Rangers during his NHL career, mostly because former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas usually faced Lundqvist. In those nine meetings, Rask is 3-3-3 with a 2.09 GAA and a .928 save percentage.

This season, Lundqvist posted a 2-1-0 record against Boston, while Rask was 1-0-2 against New York.

During the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Rask was the Bruins' starting goaltender as Thomas was dealing with a hip injury. Rask helped Boston to a first-round win over the Buffalo Sabres and their goalie Ryan Miller, but Rask tired in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers as Boston imploded, lost its 3-0 series lead and eventually fell to its opponents in Game 7.

Rask is a much different goalie now. He's more mature on and off the ice and proved in the first round against the Maple Leafs he's strong and ready for the long haul.

"I feel good," Rask said. "No problems. I played a lot of hockey in that short period of time, but that's the way it works."

Boston faced a good young goalie in the first round as Toronto's James Reimer performed well in his first Stanley Cup playoff series. Lundqvist, however, presents an entirely different challenge for the Bruins.

"It is an adjustment," said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. "Reimer played a great series and now we still have our hands full with Lundqvist. He's a great goalie and we have to make sure to put a lot of pucks on net. We know what to expect with Lundqvist. He doesn't give up too many rebounds and when he does you have to bounce on them. It's about putting a lot of traffic and creating havoc in front of him and fight for every loose puck."

How to the Bruins plan on beating Lundqvist?

"Getting pucks by him," Rask said with a smile.
BOSTON -- The New York Rangers are one of the best teams in the NHL at blocking shots. Rangers coach John Tortorella wants his players sacrificing their bodies each game to make sure that 6-ounce sphere of vulcanized rubber doesn’t reach the net.

“Knowing their coach fairly well, he doesn’t care,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien with a smile. “He’s going to have everybody blocking shots. There’s not too often I can tell you I’m 100 percent sure, but I’m 100 percent sure that’s the message he’ll be giving them.”

Even if the puck gets through traffic, New York’s Henrik Lundqvist is the top goalie in the NHL.

Basically, the Boston Bruins will have a tough challenge getting pucks by blocking defenders and a Venzina-winning goalie.

In their quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers blocked a total of 161 shots in seven games. That’s a lot of bumps and bruises for the Ranger players. In Game 7 of that series, the Rangers blocked 27 en route to a 5-0 shutout win. In fact, that wasn’t even their highest total. In Game 4, New York blocked 33 in a 4-3 win.

“That’s their business. That’s what they want to do. It’s served them well. It’s got them where they are right now, so I think the main thing for us is to know that they’re going to do that and how do we react to them blocking shots," said Julien.

“We have to keep our heads up and make sure that we don’t bury our heads when we’re shooting pucks. We’re going to have to work extra hard to get those pucks through and then get them to reach the net. At the same time, I don’t think it’s a big secret to know that they got a pretty good goaltender, and that traffic in front of the net is going to be something we’re going to want to do a lot. We know by listening to Washington that it seemed to be a bit of an issue, trying to get there. We’re going to have to work hard at making that happen.”

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has one of the hardest shots in the history of the NHL. Boston’s captain can easily uncork a slap shot upwards of 110 m.p.h. when he’s given the time and space. Teammate and fellow defenseman Johnny Boychuk isn’t too far behind with his slapper.

The Bruins’ message to the Rangers is simply: Enter at your own risk.

“I’m certainly not going to ask him to take anything off his shot because they’re blocking. If they want to block them, he’s going to shoot them,” Julien said with a smile.

Even his own teammates don’t want to block Chara’s shot during practice.

“I don’t think it would be that much fun,” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. “You have to do it, it’s part of the game, but at the same time I know in practice I don’t want to get in front of it. I played against him for a couple of years and it was never fun knowing that he was on the ice and ready for that one-timer. It’s always tough.”

How do you block it without sacrificing a body part in the process?

“You try to get as close to him as possible so that you don’t give him that much time to get his shot off,” Bergeron said. “If you give him the time that he needs to get it off, it’s definitely going to hurt or you’re not going to block it.”

It doesn’t matter who is going to be shooting the puck for the Bruins because the Rangers will be blocking them, especially defenseman Dan Girardi, who finished the regular season with 125 blocked shots in only 46 games.

“It’s about finding different ways and faking some shots,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, we need to create our chances, create some havoc in front of Lundqvist and get to the loose pucks, loose rebounds. We know it’s part of the game and they will block some shots, but it’s about fighting through it.”

How about a soft dump on net?

“Lobbing it? I don’t know, I’ve never thought of that. Maybe I should tell Claude,” Bergeron said with a smile.

Melrose picks Bruins in 7 games

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
9:07
AM ET


In the video above, ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose explains why he picks the Bruins to beat the Rangers in seven games.

B's may be without key defensemen

May, 14, 2013
5/14/13
6:46
PM ET
BOSTON -- It appears that the Bruins could be without some key veteran defensemen when they begin their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the New York Rangers on Thursday at TD Garden.

Andrew Ference (lower body) and Wade Redden (lower body) missed the Bruins' epic 5-4 overtime win over the Maple Leafs in Game 7, and Dennis Seidenberg (undisclosed injury) was only able to play 37 seconds.

On Tuesday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated to the media that the Bruins may be without Ference, Seidenberg and Redden and could have a “different look” for Thursday's game. Later in the day, the team recalled defenseman Torey Krug from Providence.

“Maybe we have a different look than we’re used to, as far as puck transporting,” Chiarelli said. “Maybe that’s a good thing, but that’s what we’re going to be. We’re calling up Torey Krug today to come along for the ride, so you may see him at a point. Those three D, if they’re in the lineup, give us a little different complexion back there.”

Chiarelli had no updates on the injured defensemen but he seemed very impressed with the progression that rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton made in the Toronto series. Chiarelli also praised head coach Claude Julien for how he handled Bartkowski, who played 24:51, and Hamilton, who logged 21:08 on ice.

“I don’t have any updates. ‘Seides’ [Seidenberg], as you know, played 37 seconds last night and, obviously, is injured,” Chiarelli said. “He’s been a playoff warrior for us, so if he’s not in we’ll miss him. But I saw two really good performances in those young players, the two rookie players; that’s another testament to coaching, that they were able to integrate these two guys amongst the five D core, in ‘Bart’ [Bartkowski] and Dougie [Hamilton].”

But while Bartkowski, Hamilton and possibly Krug can bring some offense and more puck-moving skills to the Bruins' blue line, the veteran presence of Redden, Seidenberg and Ference will be sorely missed, as will the physicality that Ference and Seidenberg bring. Seidenberg has repeatedly upped the intensity in his game come playoff time and become one of the premiere shutdown defensemen in the league at this time of year. Ference, who has missed three games in the playoffs now, also becomes more physical in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Redden has proven to be a calming influence on the younger rearguards like Hamilton and Bartkowski. But now the young core of this Bruins defense will need to step up. Captain Zdeno Chara can be counted on to eat minutes and will surely step up as he did in Game 7, but these youngsters are about to be baptized by fire against a very physical Rangers forward group.

“They play like us, these guys,” Chiarelli said of the Rangers. “Maybe a little different now that they don’t have [Marian] Gaborik. They might be a little bit deeper, but not as dynamic. They play a heavy game like us.”

B's turn to join Boston-N.Y. rivalry

May, 14, 2013
5/14/13
5:41
PM ET


BOSTON -- Let the hatred begin.

While there may be mutual respect between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers, don’t be fooled by the gentlemen-like hockey mentality. This Eastern Conference semifinal series will be a fierce battle.

These Original Six teams haven’t faced each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1973. During that 40-year span, the Red Sox and Yankees, Patriots and Giants, and Celtics and Knicks have produced plenty of classic games.

Now it’s time for the Bruins and Rangers to add to this Boston-New York rivalry.

“Another New York-Boston series,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “Red Sox-Yankees, Patriots-Giants. And the Celtics just played the Knicks. There’s a lot of hatred between these two cities and we’re looking forward to the series.”

The Bruins and Rangers match up well. Both teams play similar styles. Both are strong and physical, and have solid goaltenders. Unlike the young defensive core for the Maple Leafs, the Rangers have more of a veteran presence on the blue line. Offensively, both teams will attempt to make their marks in front of the net with their respective size and strength.

“These guys, they play like us,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.

In goal, the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist, who is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. He has enjoyed success against the Bruins in his career, posting a 21-7-2 record along with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. This season, he was 2-1-0 with a 2.93 GAA and a .913 save percentage against the Bruins.

“He’s a big goalie. He’s been really good against us. You’ve got to move him around. You’ve got to get traffic. You’ve got to get pucks on him. There’s no magic to it,” Chiarelli said. “You just have to have the commitment to do that. He’s played us tough, though, and it’s kind of different than who we faced.”

Neely expects physical series vs. Rangers

May, 14, 2013
5/14/13
4:47
PM ET
Bruins president Cam Neely was on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his team’s dramatic comeback against the Maple Leafs in Game 7 and look ahead to the series against the New York Rangers, which begins Thursday.

Neely did not have any updates on a couple of injured defensemen -- Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference -- but did say he was glad to have some time off to let wounds heal. The Bruins play just two games from Tuesday to Sunday.

“Our hopes are that helps with some of the guys that are dinged up,” Neely said.

And here is his scouting report for Bruins-Rangers:

“Another heavy series, heavy in a sense where there is going to be a lot of body contact,” Neely said. “Tough to get pucks through. Those guys, they pride themselves in blocking a lot of pucks.

“They have a world-class goaltender that’s not easy to beat. We gotta get a lot of traffic there. We have to find a way to get in front of him and make it more difficult for him to see pucks.

“They’re going to come at us just like we’re going to go at them. They might not have quite the speed that Toronto has up front, but what they lack in speed they certainly bring a physical element to the game. And they’ve got some guys that can play well offensively. It was a tight series against Washington the last couple of games, so they are used to playing a tight series. We’re gonna have to be prepared to play a physical game.”

Rangers forward shows BC pride

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
5:14
PM ET
BOSTON -- A year ago, New York Rangers forward and Boxford, Mass., native Chris Kreider was celebrating a third straight Beanpot Championship with his Boston College teammates on the ice. Monday night, he was there at TD Garden as a fan celebrating the Eagles’ fourth consecutive Beanpot title. Kreider happened to be in town with the Rangers for their game against the Bruins on Tuesday night.

"I think I was able to look at the [Beanpot] game with a different perspective," Kreider said following the Rangers’ game-day skate on Tuesday. "I ran into a lot of people I knew, and it was great to see BC win it again.”

The 2012 Beanpot seemed like many moons ago for the Rangers rookie, who left for the NHL last spring to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs after helping the Eagles to another national championship and his second in his three years at the Heights.

"It feels like more than a year ago because there's been so much hockey between now and then," said Kreider, who was the 2011 Beanpot Tournament Most Valuable Player and had a goal and assist in last year’s championship game. "It's crazy to look back and realize it was a year ago I was playing in that tournament."

Kreider has a goal and an assist in six games this season, but he made a splash in the playoffs last spring helping the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals with five goals and seven points. He is now one of 26 former Eagles currently playing in the NHL, and was sure to credit his former coach Jerry York for where he is now.

“Talk to anyone who has had the opportunity to play for him at BC and they’re extremely grateful for the opportunity he’s given them,” said Kreider, who was thrilled to see York break the all-time wins record for NCAA Division 1 coaches this season. “I don’t think we have enough time to really talk about him, but he’s such an amazing leader and coach. He’s finally getting all the accolades and credit he deserves, but you’ll see he’s quick to distribute the credit.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES