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.
When it comes to goalie matchups in the NHL playoffs, it doesn't get much better than Rask vs Lundqvist. Both guys are elite-level netminders and they came up with clutch performances when their team needed them most. The reason I sided with the Capitals last series was because of Lundqvist's inability to translate his regular season success into post-season success. He's never made it out of the second round, so this will be a monumental test for him once again. That said, he closed out the last series with back-to-back shutouts in games 6 and 7. Could this be the year Lundqvist breaks out and takes his team to the end?
Battle of Attrition
Perhaps the biggest factor that could come into play this series is what happened near the end of the regular season. Due to the Boston bombings and a series of snowstorms, the Bruins played a compressed schedule down the stretch. This, on top of an already squished schedule due to the lockout. After you had an emotional seven game series on top of that, and you could have some fatigued players near the end of this round.
Boston is already dealing with some health problems on the back end as Ference and Seidenberg are banged up, so keep an eye on the Boston defense as this series unfolds. Chara is playing a ridiculous amount of minutes and they might rely on him even more if things don't improve.
From a betting perspective, there is only one choice here. With the sportsbooks favoring the Bruins due to home ice advantage, the value play is on the Rangers. Lundqvist is going to keep them in every game and their collection of forwards should be able to take advantage of a Boston defence put together with scotch tape. I expect this to be extremely close though and I wouldn't be surprised at either outcome.
Prediction: New York ML for the series (+100).