Both the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins won their first round matchups in seven games. The big difference was how they did it. The entire hockey world were wondering what gold course the Bruins would be showing up on in the third period, but they battled back and won one of the most dramatic games in recent memory. Meanwhile, the Rangers silenced the Washington faithful on the road and smothered them for a 5-0 clincher. Let's take a closer look at how these two matchup in round 2.
Despite advancing in round 1, both of these teams had some big guns that went MIA. Seguin, Marchand, and Jagr are key cogs in the Boston wheel and none of them provided the kind of offense the team expected. Seguin had over 20 shots alone and still couldn't find a way to get a goal. Conversely, Richards and Nash couldn't do much for their side either. Richards was even dropped to the fourth line at times which is the ultimate slap in the face for someone of his pedigree.
Who is most likely to break their slump and put their team over the top in round 2? The simple answer could be no one.
There were a lot of surprises in the first round of the NHL playoffs this year, but not when it came to these two teams. The Penguins goaltending was clearly a front and center topic heading into round one and it became an even bigger story when Vokoun supplanted Fleury for the number one spot. I suspected the Islanders could snatch a couple victories from them and they almost did more than that. Meanwhile, the Senators used their 2012 playoff experience wisely and quickly took care of a Montreal team that wasn't quite ready for prime-time. So what happens when these two square off tonight in Pittsburgh?
The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years. Should we expect much of the same or have the changes on the rosters set the stage for something new?
Seeing is Believing?
If there is one series that has unknowns, this is the series. Which Ovechkin will we see? The guy who's fallen from grace over recent years or the Rocket Richard winning sniper who propelled them to a division crown? Will we get the rejuvenated Holtby who went on a tear in the final two months after getting a contract extension? Will Lundqvist raise his game to a new level and finally be the playoff goalie we've all expected of him? How will Nash do in his second playoff appearance of his career? There are lots of big questions surrounding the key players
Much like the Wild in the West, no one is giving the Islanders much a chance in this series. Sportsbooks have made them a full two game underdog for the series, so the prevailing perception is that Pittsburgh will take care of business in four or five games. Is this a true representation of the matchup? Well it is and it isn't. Let's take a closer look at the key factors.
One reason why I wouldn't completely count out an Islanders upset in this series is due to the situation between the pipes. Fleury has had a nice bounceback season from last year's playoff debacle, but until he wins another round it will continue to be an issue. This is why the Penguins were smart to secure Vokoun as the backup. If Fleury falters, I don't think they will hesitate to park him on the bench to right the ship.
The New York Rangers entered the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL regular season as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. After just two games the hype has all but turned into nerves after the team dropped their opening two games to the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins; two teams that many consider to be the two best in the Eastern Conference. It wasn’t just that the Rangers lost their opening two games; it’s that in those two games the Rangers have looked flat, out of sync, and for many stretches of play, just downright awful. The Rangers first two games were filled with the entire team making too many mistakes, both on the ice and in their heads, while taking way too many penalties to kill any momentum they may have found.
As many people have pointed out, this is why they have pre-season games, for teams to work out the kinks and get the mental mistakes out of the way.