Jack and LB joined Coach Milbury this week on The Instigators. Our favorite moment in the episode was the spot on bashing of Air Canada for their poorly thought out criticism of the Chara situation. But this week we chose to discuss which team currently at the bottom of the playoff picture presents the most difficult first round match up for the Bruins. For obvious reasons, we think Montreal poses the most serious threat, but right behind Montreal is the New York Rangers.
The Bruins split their first two games with the blue shirts with two more still to come. John Tortorella always has his team ready to play and we love his candid post-game commentary. The Rangers have been hit hard with the injury bug this season. They have been getting more healthy recently, but still have some quality players out of action (Drury, Frolov, Biron, Boogaard). New York is not going to run away with any games, but they continually can grind out low scoring contests. With Lundqvist in goal, they’ve got a shot every night. The Rangers feature a balanced offensive attack (much like the Bruins), relying on scoring depth rather than one big line. Gaborik has had a bit of a disappointing season, but if he got hot at the right time he could carry the Rangers to a series win. We never thought Newton College goon Brian Boyle would be a twenty goal scorer, but he has already accomplished that feat this season. Hobey Baker winner Matty Gilroy has eleven points in fifty-dour games, and we expect him to play some of his best hockey down the stretch. 5’9” Norwegian Mats Zuccarello has been a great addition to the roster and his breakaway skills have helped win several shootouts. Sean Avery still sucks HARD and is probably more concerned with what tie he is wearing after the game instead of killing penalties. Tough guy Brandon Prust is having a productive season in addition to racking up penalty minutes and fights. But really the Rangers will go as far as Lundqvist, Dubinsky, and Callahan can take them.
In light of the above, Boston would be looking at a six or seven game series against the Rangers. With such tightly checked defensive games, one bounce, ill timed mental mistake, or bad call usually is the difference. Boston likely would not be able to run away with that series, but I am confident that they will still come away with a series win.