Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals (So Far)

It still seems a tad bit surreal to be continuing to write this blog this season. In what looked like a disappointing end to the series and the season, the Boston Bruins completed one of the most historic comebacks in all of sports.

As great as that was to witness, it was time to put all of that behind us. We had at least another two weeks of hockey in front of us after the conclusion of the series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Up next for the Bruins was the New York Rangers. They were coming off a grueling seven-game series themselves against the Washington Capitals. The Rangers took the season series against the Bruins (2-1), but those three games took place within the first couple weeks of the season. This is a new-look Rangers team.

They still have arguably one of the best goaltenders in the league in Henrik Lundqvist, but they traded away Marian Gaborik and acquired a couple of grinders in order to change their style. 

The Bruins looked to break through their shutdown style of play and get some good scoring chances against Lundqvist. Tuukka Rask needed to stand on his head in this series to silent the skilled players on the Rangers like Brad Richards and Rick Nash. 

The issue for the Bruins was that they were coming into this Eastern Conference semi-final series with half of their defense out due to injuries. Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, and Wade Redden did not start the first couple of games in the series. Torey Krug was recalled from Providence and he joined Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton on the blue line.  

Game one actually went into overtime. Be aware fans: you may see a couple more of these in the series. In an extra period that was completely dominated by the Bruins, they ended up getting the game-winner at the hands of Brad Marchand. Patrice Bergeron made a beautiful cross-ice pass and it landed right at his stick for him to tap in. Zdeno Chara and Krug recorded the regulation goals for Boston while David Krejci continues to lead the NHL in points as he picked up another assist in game one. Rask was solid in net, stopping 33 shots. 

After two days off, the teams were back on the ice Sunday afternoon for game two of the series. In this game, Krug recorded another goal and an assist. The kid continues to be a scoring machine and his puck-handling ability has been ridiculous (in a good way). 

For the Rangers, Nash got on the board for the first time in the playoffs during game two. That got lost in the mix as the Bruins defeated the Rangers in game two by a score of 5-2. Krejci posted another two assists in this game.

Jaromir Jagr has struggled so far in this series. He seems to be fatigued very often and he controls the puck way too much. He may see a reduction in ice time as the week progresses. Also, the Rangers are woefully awful on the power play. You thought the Bruins were bad? New York has been worse.

Since the young defensemen have been playing solid so far, the question now becomes what will head coach Claude Julien do when his three veteran blue liners are healthy? Seidenberg is a no-brainer, he will be back in. As far as Ference and Redden, we will see what happens.

Game three will be played on Tuesday night in New York with the Bruins holding a 2-0 series lead.

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