After coming off tough first-round matchups, the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are set to face off in the second round of the 2013 NHL Playoffs. Both the Rangers and Bruins survived seven-game series’ to advance.
The Rangers are alive after a disappointing regular season. They finished with the sixth seed in the East, but upset the Washington Capitals in seven.
Boston got a scare in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They won three of the first four games, but were on the verge of being knocked out in Game Seven. Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic’s goals in the final two minutes sent the contest into overtime, where the Bruins pulled out the 5-4 victory.
On Thursday night, New York and Boston will take the ice for Game One of their best-of-seven series. The contest is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.
If the Rangers want to steal home-ice advantage, they’ll likely have to do so with another great performance by Henrik Lundqvist. The goaltender helped New York win their last two games with consecutive shutouts.
It hasn’t only been Lundqvist, though. The Rangers defenders have done a terrific job of blocking shots and not allowing any clean looks at the net. They are led by Dan Girardi, who had the most blocks in the NHL regular season with 125. Girardi, Ryan McDonah and Ryan Callahan all rank in the top seven in blocked shots this postseason.
For Boston, Tuukka Rask has also ben stellar in net. However, he could be without some of the team’s top defensemen. Andrew Ference, Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenberg are all battling injuries and expected to be sidelined.
Despite the injuries, Boston is expected to take care of business at home. They are -130 favorites, according to most Las Vegas casinos.
Prediction: It will be hard enough for the Bruins to score against a Lundqvist and a stingy Rangers defense. Without a few key defensemen, letting in a few goals could make all the difference. Look for Rick Nash to bounce back after a difficult series against Washington.
Predicted Score: New York 3, Boston 1