When the Boston Bruins edged out the Toronto Maple Leafs in game seven of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Bruins Nation breathed a sigh of relief. That relief quickly became concern when we realized who are opponent was in the semifinals were. The New York Rangers (on paper) were every bit our equal in a physical game. Their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist was slated to be a Vezina trophy finalist and was better than our own Tuukka Rask. Could the Bruins survive the second round?
Well, the last time the numbers had the Bruins out of playoffs was 2011. I think we all remember how that turned out. The Bruins have ignored the math, and played to their skills. Even with half of their starting defensemen playing in their rookie NHL playoffs, the Bruins have leapt out to a commanding 3-0 lead going into game four tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers will be starting game four with key holes in their roster. Anton Stralman was hurt late in the second period of game three when Milan Lucic put him in the end boards in the defensive zone. Stralman sat out the entire third period and did not participate in the Rangers’ optional skate yesterday. As Stralman was averaging over twenty one minutes in the playoffs, the Rangers will have to have someone step up and play to the level of the Bruins’ captain, Zdeno Chara. (Not bloody likely!)
Brad Richards will be a healthy scratch tonight. This morning, Richards told reporters that New York head coach John Tortorella called him this morning with the news he wasn’t playing. Richards who is two years deep into a nine year, sixty million dollar contract has been a big disappointment so far for the Rangers. In his ten playoff appearances, he’s only tallied a single goal while skating on the fourth line. (He only had 8:10 of ice time in game three.)
The Rangers will be playing for their playoff lives (and quite possibly John Tortorella’s job) tonight. The puck drops at 7:00 pm at Madison Square Garden.