Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Rangers readying for a familiar foe
By Katie Strang
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- It’s been more than three months since the Rangers and Bruins last played, but New York still has a pretty good idea of what it’ll be facing in its second-round foe.
One of the deepest teams in the league, the Bruins' roster boasts substantial size and grit in addition to their skill.
“They’re a big, physical team. A heavy team,” said gritty third-line winger Derek Dorsett, who was key in setting a physical tone for the Rangers against Washington. “It’ll be a war.”
Besides a change in net -- Tuukka Rask is now the starting goaltender instead of Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas -- the Bruins have been able to retain much of their core group from their Stanley Cup championship in 2011.
And of course, captain Zdeno Chara, among the most physically imposing players in the league, is still the anchor of their defense.
“That team has been the same type of team for three, four years. I don’t think much has changed there, even their lines. There’s a little difference, but we’ve seen Boston since they won the Cup that year,” veteran center Brad Richards said. “There aren’t going to be a lot of surprises. It’s gonna be about patience and a lot of defending, I imagine, and who sticks with it longer.”
Both teams are coming off their own seven-game series, though the Bruins’ Game 7 victory against the Maple Leads was much more dramatic than the Rangers’ 5-0 rout of the Capitals.
The Bruins erased a 4-1 Leafs lead in the third period, scoring a pair of goals in the last 1:22 of regulation. Bergeron notched both the tying goal and the overtime winner to complete the stunning comeback.
“Second round, it’s gaining even more intensity,” said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. “You feed off both Game 7 wins; both teams [won] in kind of dramatic fashion, I guess. There’s gonna be a lot of energy for both teams and a lot of excitement.”
McDonagh played a vital role, along with defensive partner Dan Girardi, in shutting down the Capitals’ top line of Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin in Round 1. Ovechkin, who captured the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer in the regular season, was held off the score sheet for the last five games of the series.
The Rangers’ top shutdown pair will likely be used against Boston’s top line of Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton.
If that happens, that will be an opportunity they will embrace.
“Their top line is really clicking right now,” McDonagh said. “Obviously, that’s going to be a task in itself to try and defend whoever’s out there with them. We’re gonna try to do it the same way we did against Washington, as a five-man unit, try to make them defend and wear them out that way.”