As I mentioned before this second round series started, the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins are two of the more evenly matched teams in the NHL. Game 1 however seemed to present a slightly different story. Yes, these two Original Six rivals did have to go to overtime before Bruins forward Brad Marchand beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist 15:40 into the extra period to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory, but the Bruins were unquestionably the better team last night.
Overall, their offense did a much better job generating scoring chances than the Rangers’ offense did. The Rangers were not able to take advantage of the fact that the Bruins had three rookie defensemen (Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug) in the lineup due to injury and did not put much pressure on them to make many tough plays. In contrast, the Bruins did a great job getting pucks to the net, outshooting the Rangers 48-35, and generating a forecheck in order to create those opportunities.
Their power play, ranked 26th in the NHL during the regular season, looked strikingly different from the Rangers’ abysmal unit (0-for-3 on the game, 2-for-31 in the playoffs), moving the puck with ease and creating a flurry of chances. As a result, the Bruins were able to capitalize on the power play in the third period when Krug ripped a slap shot from the left point past Lundqvist on the glove side to tie the game 2-2.
The Bruins easily could have won the game in regulation, with forward David Krejci hitting the crossbar and defenseman Johnny Boychuk hitting the post in the third period. Boychuk’s shot from the right point clanged off the left post with one-tenth of a second remaining to keep the score knotted 2-2.
The Bruins carried the play throughout overtime as they applied constant pressure, outshooting the Rangers 16-5 in the extra session. Boychuk even hit another post on an off-balance shot from the right point at 6:34 in overtime. They could not score during a power play despite putting eight shots on goal when Rangers forward Derek Dorsett was penalized for interference at 2:20 of overtime. However, the Bruins were able to carry the momentum from that glorious opportunity as Marchand was able to convert on a 3-0n-2 less than 15 minutes later.
Rangers coach John Tortorella may not be the most diplomatic, charming, or verbose, especially during the playoffs, but he has a true knack for diagnosing the team’s shortcomings and he spelled it out in his post-game press conference. “We got spanked in the overtime,” he said. He confirmed that the Bruins were much better than they were and that could not be the case going forward for his team to have any success.
The Bruins did not just “spank” the Rangers in overtime; they outplayed the Rangers in every facet throughout the game. The Bruins dominated the Rangers with an offensive onslaught that required Lundqvist (45 saves) to be nothing short of perfect. Unfortunately for him, the Rangers didn’t do much to help stem the Bruins’ surge, resulting in their eventual downfall in Game 1. In the words of Tortorella once more, the Rangers quite simply “must be better” if they are going to come back like they did in the first round against the Washington Capitals.