Rangers-Bruins: Series Preview

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The Forwards


Rangers: All season long John Tortorella preached the importance of secondary scoring, and in the first round of the playoffs the Rangers received that in spades. From Derick Brassard's shocking nine-point (2-7-9) breakout, to Brian Boyle, Carl Hagelin, and Arron Asham each scoring a pair of goals, to Taylor Pyatt notching three points (1-2-3), to Mats Zuccarello recording five (1-4-5), the Rangers received production from their second, third, and fourth lines---though it should be noted that 13 of the 16 goals scored by the Blueshirts against Washington came in three wins, in Games Three, Four, and Seven. Still, the play of the secondary forwards helped push this club into the second round of the playoffs, and should give the Rangers confidence moving forward that even when top gun Rick Nash is held at bay, they can still hold their own. That said, the Rangers need more---much more---offensively from Nash (0-2-2 in Round One after a team-best 21-goal regular season), Derek Stepan (two goals vs. the Capitals, though both game-winners), and Ryan Callahan (1-2-3 in Round One). This group of forwards did a solid job defensively in the first round, especially the line of Hagelin-Stepan-Callahan, which helped shut down Alex Ovechkin's line, and Pyatt-Boyle-Derek Dorsett, which was a physically disruptive line, in particular in the Game Six and Seven victories. The Ranger forwards really amped up their physical play as the series moved along, and that will need to continue against a very physical Bruins team. Also look for the speed of Hagelin, and to a lesser degree Chris Kreider, to give the Bruins some trouble.


Bruins: Boston has as deep a group of forwards as any team in the NHL, and it seems all are as adept defensively as they are offensively, led by Selke Trophy candidate, and first round playoff hero, Patric Bergeron who scored the tying goal in the final of minute of play Monday against Toronto and then delivered the Bruins into the second round with the overtime winner. This group has size, speed, and skill in abundance, with David Krejci having just notched an NHL-best 13 points in Round One leading the way so far in the post-season. Hulking Milan Lucic (2-7-9 vs. the Maple Leafs) is more than a handful as is the imposing Nathan Horton (4-3-7). Both of those forwards will just as soon bury an opponent with a huge hit as they will score a big goal. Former Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr has been practicing on the second line in the place of young stud Tyler Seguin, who struggled in the opening round series, just a further example of the riches Boston has up front. And their fourth line is no bargain to play against either, featuring the rugged Shawn Thornton and top defensive players Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. One through 12, this is an extremely difficult group of forwards to play against, and head coach Claude Julien will have no problems rolling out all four lines.