In their opening-round seven-game series win over the Washington Capitals, the Rangers advanced despite losing the first two games on the road, going on to win four of the final five games played. While that is commendable and impressive, the Rangers do not want to be in that position of being in an 0-2 hole again in Round Two against a better Boston Bruins club. But after losing the first game 3-2 in overtime that is exactly the danger the Rangers face when they face the Bruins Sunday afternoon at TD Garden in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
While bitterly disappointing, Thursday's Game One defeat was by and large an extremely even contest through 60 minutes of play. While neither club seemed totally on top of their overall game, the two clubs played on an even par until the overtime period when Boston rode the momentum provided by an early power play and then proceeded to dominate the visitors until Brad Marchand finally sealed the deal, scoring off a 3-on-2 rush at 15:40 of overtime.
So there are positives to be taken from Game One, though the Rangers believe that just as they will be far better and more physical and more intense on Sunday, so, too, will the Bruins. The feeling out process ended somewhere after the first period on Thursday, and the physicality of the series crept into the game on both sides. Now the Rangers will seek to be even more physical, and generate even more scoring chances in Game Two.
Henrik Lundqvist faced, by far, the more dangerous scoring chances in Game One, while Boston netminder Tuukka Rask had a fairly easy night of it. Lundqvist finished with 45 saves, not including the three or four shots which caught iron behind him. The King was spectacular late in the third period and through overtime when he and his teammates were under siege from a Bruins squad that had completely take the game over. However Lundqvist will also want to tighten up his game, too, as he clearly was not happy letting Zdeno Char's series-opening goal somehow slip through him and over the goal line.
Though still seeking his first playoff goal in eight games this spring, Rick Nash played, perhaps, his best game of the postseason on Thursday. Using his size, speed and strength, Nash set up Ryan McDonagh's goal in the waning seconds of the second period with a power move and wraparound attempt. He also did a better job getting into the slot, and used his wicked forehand shot much more often then he did in the previous playoff series with Washington. Though Derek Stepan scored a goal early in the third period, head coach John Tortorella stated on Saturday that his top players need to play better moving forward.
Special teams will need to be a better of the Rangers game moving ahead, as well. Boston was 1-for-4 on their power play, but they scored the game-tying goal with the man advantage, and their late third period and early overtime power plays turned the game decidedly in the Bruins favor despite not being able to score--due in large part to the incredible play of Lundqvist in goal. The Rangers looked woeful in going 0-for-3 on the power play Thursday, and are now just 2-for-31 with the man advantage in the playoffs---0-for-16 on the road.
Boston likely will be without three veteran defensemen again in Game Two. Dennis Seidenberg---who did practice on Saturday, Andrew Ferrence, and Wade Redden all sat out Game One due to injury. Rookies Torey Krug (tying goal), Dougie Hamilton (assist on Krug goal) and Matt Bartkowski all played sound games on defense on Thursday, even with Bartkowski finishing a minus-two in 26:42 of ice-time.
Will the Rangers leave Boston all even at 1-1 in the series? Share your predictions below.