Bruins: Henrik Lundqvist

NEW YORK -- With a chance to eliminate the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night, the Boston Bruins probably didn’t need any added motivation. Nevertheless, they might have gotten it from New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

“I’ve looked at a few games and they definitely got some lucky bounces,” Lundqvist said Thursday morning. “Last game I blame the loss on lucky bounces, but they haven’t changed the way they’re playing. They shoot from the point and they get a lot of people in front of the net. That’s what they do and they’re good at it. You just have to play them hard and make sure we make it tough for them to get in front.”

There was at least one bounce that didn’t go Boston’s way in Game 3, which was won by Boston, 2-1, when a Shawn Thornton shot got behind Lundqvist in the crease but didn’t cross the line. Daniel Paille, however, soon rectified that by coming from behind the net to knock it in.

Lundqvist’s comments drew a smile from Bruins forward Milan Lucic.

“When you work hard and you put the time in sometimes you get rewarded by being lucky,” Lucic said. “The old saying: You’ve got to be lucky to be good. Good to be lucky.”

The Bruins, who are up 3-0 in the series, have outscored the Rangers 10-5 in the first three games, including a 5-2 win in Game 2. It was the first time since March 9, 2011 (a span of 151 games) that Lundqvist allowed more than four goals in a single game.

After that game, and throughout the series for that matter, Rangers coach John Tortorella backed his goalie.

"I don't need to evaluate Henrik," he said at the time. "We know what Henrik is."


Boston’s game plan from the start of this series has been to create traffic in front of the reigning Vezina Trophy winner to make it more difficult for him to see shots.

“They go hard to the net, that’s what they do,” Lundqvist said. “That’s how they’ve played. The put pucks on the net and they create chances from rebounds and screens and deflections. They play the same way all the time and we’re going to have to stop it tonight if we want to keep playing.”

Rask, Lundqvist a study of contrasts

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
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BOSTON -- The masked men at either end of the ice couldn’t be any more different from each other.

The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask and the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist are set to face one another in the Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, which begins with Game 1 on Thursday night at TD Garden.

“On his skates, he’s really fast,” Lundqvist said of his opponent. “Side to side he moves well and he’s an aggressive goalie. We’ve played against each other a bunch of times now. He’s good and obviously I’m going to have to match it. He’s a little different compared to me. I play really deep and he’s more aggressive, he comes out a lot and challenges the shooter more.”

Lundqvist 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. Rask has played only nine games against the Rangers during his NHL career, posting a 3-3-3 record with a 2.09 GAA and a .928 save percentage. This season, he was 1-0-2 against New York.

New York defeated the Washington Capitals in the first round and Lundqvist posted back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7.

After the Rangers’ morning skate Thursday at TD Garden, Lundqvist said he realizes the Bruins are a much different team from his team's previous opponent.

“I’m not going to change my game. I play the same way. I approach the game the same way, but it is a different team,” Lundqvist said. “I think Washington might have some high-skilled players, but Boston is more about the team. Every time we play them it’s around the net, it’s around the blue lines, that’s where a lot of times it’s decided.”

From the team standpoint, the Bruins and Rangers are similar and play a similar style. It will be a low-scoring series and the physical play will make up for the lack of offensive production.

“I see some similarities. I look forward to the matchup, it’s going to be interesting to see how we can respond to their physical play. I’m just exited to get going,” Lundqvist said.

NHL scout identifies B's keys vs. Rangers

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
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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.

Bruins-Rangers scouting report

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
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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:

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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
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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.

Rapid reaction: Rangers 1, Bruins 0

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
3:42
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BOSTON -- For all the talk that it could be the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, there’s also a strong possibility the Bruins could face the New York Rangers.

The Bruins currently hold the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Rangers are battling for the sixth seed with the Canadiens. After Boston dismantled Montreal 7-0 Thursday night at TD Garden, New York gave the Bruins a tougher time Saturday afternoon behind the solid goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers’ Derek Stepan netted the lone goal as New York posted a 1-0 margin of victory over Boston. Lundqvist, playing in 400th career game, recorded his league-leading 11th shutout of the season. He made 26 saves.

It was the sixth time this season the Bruins were shutout, and the fifth on home ice, but the first with Tuukka Rask between the pipes. Rask played well and made 22 saves.

The Bruins and Rangers are similar teams and play a comparable style. Both clubs are big, physical and gritty and Saturday’s result was an indication of how a playoff series would be between Boston and New York.

“They’re a big team. They’re a hard-working team, they’re a grinding team,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien prior to Saturday’s game. “They play with a lot of passion and I think it makes for some interesting match-ups. They’ve got a great goaltender that keeps them in every game. So it should make for an interesting match-up with us all the time.”


Thomas gets day off: After posting his eighth shutout of the season in a 24-save performance over the Canadiens on Thursday night at the Garden, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was given Saturday off. Julien has said that he wants to keep Thomas fresh for the playoffs, but at the same time, the coach wants to keep Rask sharp, too.

Campbell drops in: It wasn’t much of a fight, but the Bruins’ Gregory Campbell proved once again that he’s not afraid to drop the gloves as he went with the Rangers’ Sean Avery in the first period.

Scratches: Forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Steven Kampfer were both healthy scratches against the Rangers on Saturday.

Up next: The Bruins completed a three-game homestand and there’s no time to rest as Boston travels to Philadelphia to face the Flyers Sunday night. Philadelphia is currently the top team in the Eastern Conference.

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