BOSTON, MA – The Bruins and New York Rangers kick off their second round series tonight at TD Garden, in what is expected to be a hard-fought, defense-first type of series between the two Original Six rivals.
“I know we’re both gritty teams,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien. “We’ll go and grind it out. We don’t have all these so-called superstar players that can dictate the game one way or another. It’s about what we do as a group, and the same thing goes for them, I’m sure.
“It just makes for a good battle. The team that wins this series is the team that’s going to want to battle it out more than the other, be grittier, and get their noses dirtier than the other team. That’s what I anticipate, anyways.”
Both teams are coming off Game Seven victories in the first round and are anxious to start up a new round.
“You have two teams here that are excited to be here,” said Rangers goalie and Vezina Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist. “We're all excited players to get going in the second round.”
“I'm ready for anything,” added Lundqvist when asked what he expects from the series. “Sometimes you think you know how it's going to look like and you go out there and it's a completely different game. I'm just going to go out there and play my game. It's important for me to just focus on me, it doesn't matter how we play or they play.”
Tyler Seguin is also raring to go, especially after registering just one assist in the Bruins’ first round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“[It’s] a whole new series,” said Seguin. “It’s kind of like a Game Seven: it doesn’t matter what happened before. With a new series, doesn’t matter what happened last series. You get to come in fresh and get ready to go.”
While both teams are extremely similar (both have great goaltending and a heightened focus on defense), the Rangers place an extra emphasis on blocking shots. In the first round they led the NHL with 161 blocked shots.
The Bruins must be patient and wait for shooting lanes to open up if they want to get shots to the net.
“[We’ve] got to find ways to get pucks to the net,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien. “Just got to keep your head up when you’re shooting. They’re going to block shots no matter what. We’ve just got to do the best we can do to get them on net.
“As a team, you’re going to get some shots blocked because they like doing it. We’re just going to do our best to get them through and make sure they get to the net, and hopefully get some net-front traffic. That’s going to make things a little tougher for their goaltender, that’s not a secret.”
“It's about finding different ways,” added alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, who was named a finalist for the Selke Award on Wednesday. “Definitely try to fake some shots, but at the same time, it's just create our chances, create some havoc in front of Lundqvist and get to the loose pucks, get to the rebounds. We know it's part of the game, they will block some shots. It's about fighting through it.”
The Bruins and Rangers have not met since February 12 and both have undergone lineup changes since then. The Blue Shirts traded Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, in exchange for forwards Derek Dorsett and Derick Brassard, defenseman John Moore, and a sixth-round pick in 2014.
The Bruins acquired Jaromir Jagr on April 2 and have seen a transformation on defense with Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, and Wade Redden all suffering injuries in the first round. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski were called up from Providence and Dougie Hamilton was reinserted into the lineup.
“I think when you look at how much has happened since we’ve played each other, it’s been a lot and with different players,” said Seguin. “The systems are probably the same, but it’s still two different teams from who played each other last time.”
“They have a lot of depth at every position,” added Brassard, who was the Rangers’ leading scorer in the first round, tallying two goals and seven assists. “They have some injuries on the back end, but they have some good young players. They have a really good team, we all know that. It's going to be a good series.”