Rangers, Bruins begin ‘physical’ Eastern Conference semifinals

The Rangers are expecting a physical Eastern Conference semifinals with Boston. Credit: Getty Images
The Rangers are expecting a physical Eastern Conference semifinals with Boston.
Credit: Getty Images

Dan Girardi summed up the impending Rangers-Bruins Eastern Conference semifinal series with one word: physical.

“It’s definitely going to be physical for sure,” Dan Girardi said following a spirited practice at the Rangers’ training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. Wednesday in preparation for the best-of-seven series which begins Thursday night at the T.D. Garden in Boston.

This will be the 10th time the Original Six brethren have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers have lost six of the nine series, but won the last meeting, a five-game elimination of the Bruins way back in the 1973 quarterfinals.

The Rangers won two of the three regular season matchups between the long time rivals, including a 4-3 shootout win in Boston on Feb. 12, the last time the teams met. Both teams finished with nine goals scored in the three games.

“[We played] them three times in the first couple weeks and that’s pretty much it,” Girardi said.

At first glance, the Bruins and Rangers appear to be mirror images of each other. The Bruins ended the regular season with one more goal than the Rangers (127-126). The Rangers finished the regular season ranked third in the NHL in hits (1,413) and sixth in blocked shots (773), while Boston was 10th (1,200) and 22nd (650) in those categories.

“I think the teams are pretty similar,” Girardi said. “Both teams want to get on the forecheck, create some momentum that way.”

When the Bruins are at their best, Boston’s top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton is able to use their size to wear down their opponents in the offensive zone. The trio totaled 29 points in the seven-game Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Maple Leafs.

“It’s going to be a pretty good challenge for us,” Girardi said. “I think they’re going to do their best to get in front of [Henrik Lundqvist] and bring pucks to the net. We just have to be strong down the walls, make sure they can’t get to the front and just be strong. [We] can’t let them push us around in front of the net. We have to make sure [it's clear] for Hankie in front – let him [see] shots.”

Like the Bruins, the Rangers also have size. Since the trade deadline acquisitions of Ryane Clowe from San Jose and the triumvirate of Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore from Columbus, the Rangers are 13-7.

“We’re able to play the way we want to play more consistently because I think we have a deeper lineup,” head coach John Tortorella said. “I think we played our best game of the seven game series in Game 7. I’m hoping that transfers over to the start of the [Bruins] series, where I can use the whole bench.”

One of the themes in the series win over Washington was the Rangers’ secondary scoring. While the Capitals kept the Rangers’ stars in check, the Southeast Division champions did not have an answer for the Blueshirts’ depth.

Brassard totaled nine points in the seven games. Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin finished with five points (one goal and four assists) and four points (two goals and two assists), respectively. Linemates Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt recorded three points (two goals and an assist) each.

“For a team, it helps when your second [and] third line guys contribute, as our team did, but for the top end guys, that’s why they are where they are [as] top players because they want that,” Tortorella said. “So I don’t think it takes any pressure off them. I think they want to be the person to make a difference.”

One such player is Rick Nash. Nash only had two assists against the Capitals, but he did lead the team with 22 shots in the seven games. Tortorella believes the left wing is due to break out.

“He played really well in Game 7, and really didn’t have many bad games in the series. In Washington he didn’t finish,” Tortorella said. “He certainly wasn’t totally on but he’s very close. I thought he played very well in Game 7. He’s playing and I think he’s going to be a really big part of this as we enter into Boston.”

Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…