The Boston Bruins once again proved to be too much in the later stages of the game, and now lead their playoff series 2-0 against the New York Rangers. We said after Game 1 that the Rangers needed more from Lundqvist and they didn’t get it. Add on the fact that their offense once again couldn’t finish when it had to, and you have a New York team that needs to look for more than the simple assurance that they lost the first two games last series against the Washington Capitals. If they’re going to get out of this hole, they need something tangible to draw on, and they need it soon.
While the Rangers certainly put more pressure on goalie Tuukka Rask, especially in the second period, they simply couldn’t come up with the quality chances necessary to beat the Bruins, or even keep it close late. Outside of two rushes by top players and a few Boston giveaways, the Rangers were hardly a threat to Boston, especially in the third period.
Odd-man rush goals by Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash were the lone bright spots in a game where Bostons’ defense dictated the play for the Rangers, while the speedy forwards were too much for a flat-footed Rangers team. Outside of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, this core looks outmatched by the top six of Boston when it counts the most. Brad Marchand has been a lightning bolt on the ice after a sterile first round. If he can keep clicking with Patrice Bergeron, this could be a short series.
Three Stars of Game Two:
Third: Milan Lucic – He was havoc in the middle of the ice for much of the game and his goal to seal the win was a textbook Lucic goal. Power to the net, clean up the mess. If he gets rolling, the Rangers’ battered D-core will only look worse.
Second: Tuukka Rask – The second period might have been the best of Rasks’ career. He held off several big chances, withstood a loud post ring by Ryan Callahan, and held down the fort until the Bruins forwards could seal the game in the third.
First: Brad Marchand – A goal, an assist, and a big target on his back. Marchand has kept his mouth shut and let his play do the talking this year, and it’s finally paying dividends in the second round. No forward is putting more pressure on the Rangers right now than the speedy Marchand. It’s not just the points either. He’s a menace on the forecheck and his skating ability puts constant pressure on the defense. It appears Marchand’s scoring slump is well behind him.
Keys for New York in Game Three:
Get an early lead – If the Rangers have to improve, they need to find a way to get in front before the Bruins can hit the brakes on the game’s flow. They’ve lead for a mere 3:31 out of the first 136 minutes of the series. This Boston team is simply too good with a lead. They don’t look for breakaways with a lead, and instead they clog the neutral zone and the middle of the ice for the Rangers. This means that the Rangers essentially have to luck into a goal with a point shot or something similar. The Rangers might want to look at using Rick Nash more in front of the net as opposed to the wing on the power play and at even strength. As it is, they have few big bodied skill players who can take a beating and tip a long shot.
Henrik Lundqvist – The Rangers are a team that’s constructed to steal games with its goalie. Lundqvist looks like no caper from up here, so the Rangers defense needs to be better in front of its own net. You’d think after that overtime goal that they wouldn’t let Brad Marchand free in front of the net as Bergeron streaks down the wing. You’d be wrong. Henrik said he should have read the play in Game One, yet there he was in Game Two, not reading the play. The Rangers might have to get one of those ugly 1-0 wins to stay in this one, and that starts in goal.
Keys to Game Three for Boston:
Stay physical on the forecheck – They’ll have to expect the best game out of New York yet in Game Three, and this could prove an ample opportunity for the Bruins to put the Rangers down on the mat. The Bruins need to stay aggressive on the forecheck and let no defenseman move the puck up quick. If they’d kept the breakaways to a minimum, they might have shut out the Rangers in Game Two.