The Boston-New York rivalry get played up quite a bit in the NBA and especially in MLB circles, but on Thursday night, the Bruins and Rangers prepare for a big 2nd round series in the NHL. After a stunning comeback in Game 7 to get to this point, will the Bruins have enough left in the tank to take care of the Rangers?
Early Monday night, most fans of the Bruins thought the season was over. Trailing 4-1 in the third period, it looked as though the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to win their first playoff series this decade. However, the Bruins put together a masterful comeback and won in overtime. Now, they will play the role of the team with nothing to lose as they face the Rangers.
Technically speaking, the Bruins enter as the higher seed with home ice advantage during the series. The Rangers are also tired themselves, wrapping up a seven-game series against the Capitals. However, many feel that New York underachieved all season long. They entered the strike-shortened season as the Eastern Conference favorites, but they had to finish strong in the regular season just to get into the playoffs.
The key to this series for the Bruins will be the play of their non-first lines. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton in particular have been fantastic, but they need help from other offensive players to truly make a deep playoff run. Their defense is a bit banged up, with Wade Redden and Andrew Ference in particular missing Game 7 against the Leafs. Without a strong defense, the Rangers can rack up goals in a hurry.
Tuukka Rask had just as good of a season and Henrik Lundqvist this year, but a look at the percentage played in any fantasy hockey league will show that most still trust the veteran in goal for the Rangers. In reality, this is about as good of a 2nd round matchup one could ask for. Both teams probably wouldn’t mind a short series, but this should go at least six or seven. The Bruins are more consistent, and they have home ice for a possible Game 7 if it comes to that. For that reason, they get the slight edge.