April 4, 2010: Bruins v. Rangers
Tonight the Bruins will face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. This here is a classic melee from the 1970s.
Unlike previous matches of late, such as though against the Canadiens and Blackhawks, in which few predictions could be honestly put forward, tonight’s bout against the Rangers is different. It’s clear, based on prior outings and the manner in which the Rangers are playing right now, that this will be a very low-scoring game.
One word: Henrik.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has carried the team on his shoulders and is playing with a poise and grace that’s kept his team’s playoff aspirations afloat all season. Now, the offensive acumen of the Rangers may leave something to be desire, but, his teammates are chipping in more than ever. As commentators have noted time and again, from Stepan to Callahan to Dubinsky to Anisimov, each player is competing in every shift as if it’s his last. They play with an energy and hunger that’s unrivaled in the Eastern Conference right now. This may be a product of their hanging on the eight seed for dear life with the Hurricanes nipping at their toes. But it also seems to be just how this team plays. John Tortorella has extracted some stunning performances from his players, a cast of unlikely characters so often accused of being overpaid and lacking in talent—joined in an unholy union through poor management. But, this team delivers and will fight. The Bruins should expect a team that is desperate. And maybe it’s not just Henrik. It’s the whole team.
And this whole team may indeed be who the Bruins face in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs if berths shifted in the final week or so left in the regular season. At the moment they are slated to play the Canadiens, if all holds. I think he focusing too much on “future playoff match-ups” is unnecessary. The Bruins needn’t get ahead of themselves.
Personnel-wise, for the Bruins, Tim Thomas looks to get the start in net. Hnidy and Kampfer will be the healthy scratches. It would seem those two will make more appearances in the final three games after this. McQuaid enjoyed some much needed rest during the last game. He’s blocked innumerable shots (well, they can be enumerated, but, it seems like he’s flying out in front of pucks constantly) and should be well-prepared for the playoffs. Thornton will still be side-lined with his injured forehead.
Once more, final thoughts:
- No early goals against. The Rangers are highly successful when leading after two periods, and will lock-it-down if they score early.
- Less cycle, more net-presence on the powerplay. It seems there’s been great progress lately.
- Seguin has played well against the Rangers this year. Giving him and his line more ice-time could challenge the sometimes clunky and slow Blueshirt d-men.
- If the game heads to a shootout, give Campbell and Marchand a chance. Seguin, is a given. But given the team’s lackluster performance thus far, it’s worth allowing other players the opportunity.