By Steve Silverman
High scoring? Definitely not.
Compelling and can’t miss? Without a doubt.
There’s something magical about the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers facing off in a playoff series. A four-decade absence in playoff competition will do that.
Forget the nostalgia. These are two teams that will mirror each other in approach and intensity every night.
The television broadcasts will be compelling. However, the in-person thumping that will take place at the two gardens — TD and Madison Square — will be thunderous.
It seems likely that the team that survives will be huge underdogs against the Pittsburgh Penguins (assuming they dispose of the pesky Ottawa Senators) in the Eastern Conference finals. However, that survivor will be battle-tested and somewhat vicious once the current series is over.
The Rangers have the advantage at the start of the series. The Bruins’ defense is awfully depleted, and it’s not likely that defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden will play in the opener.
Zdeno Chara is usually the Boston defenseman who gets the most attention, but Seidenberg is clearly the second best of the group. He is a big thumper himself and can carry the puck out of trouble. Ference is a smart and underrated player who can step up into the attack.
Rangers fans certainly know Redden. John Tortorella banished him when he didn’t fit the coach’s eye, and he was a trade-deadline pickup for the Bruins. Redden has been well worth the sixth-round draft pick that he cost them.
The Bruins will use youngsters Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug in their place if the veteran trio can’t play. Hamilton is a future star, but he is mistake-prone at this point. So are the other two, but that didn’t stop Bartkowski from playing a strong Game 7 against Toronto.
The Rangers are going to have to attack the Bruins with their strong forechecking game. That’s the way both teams play on a regular basis, but with three young defensemen in the lineup, it will almost certainly pay huge dividends for the Rangers.
There’s bound to be some nervousness, and mistakes are likely. The Rangers must be like piranhas after the first hint of blood in the water.
Henrik Lundqvist will get tested at some point in the series, but if there’s one game in which the Rangers should leave him to his own devices and go into a full-fledged attack mode, it’s this one.
The Bruins are going to be using young defensemen who will likely make mistakes. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask may be left hung out to dry on several occasions if the Rangers attack with ferocity.
If the Rangers give up a breakaway or two, it’s no big deal. They have Lundqvist in the net.
Do you think he’s going to give up more than one goal? Not the way he’s been playing.
The Rangers have an opportunity in Game 1 to set the tone of the series. The Bruins are still in the clouds after their seventh-game miracle comeback vs. Toronto.
They will eventually focus, but it won’t be in the first game.
It is the Rangers’ game for the taking.
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