It looked like the New York Rangers would be the first team eliminated from the second round of the 2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoffs. New York rallied after trailing three games to one to oust the Pittsburgh Penguins, and suddenly, the Rangers are the ones waiting to learn their next opponent.
It’s going to be either the Boston Bruins or the Montreal Canadiens, who must settle their series in Game 7, but who would the Rangers rather play? Let’s take a closer look at reasons why they would want or not want to see a certain team.
Why They Want To Play Canadiens:
The Rangers match up fairly well overall against the Habs, but their most favorable comparison comes at the blue line. Despite the great play of Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, the Rangers have the advantage on defense.
The Rangers have a deep defensive corps, including two pairs that coach Alain Vigneault trusts in any situation against any line. Subban may be the best defenseman of either team, but the depth is what’s more important at this point in the playoffs. Including the playoffs, the Rangers will be playing their 97th game of the season in Game 1 of the East final, so depth is essential to their success.
Why They Don’t Want to Play Canadiens:
The Rangers have done well killing penalties this postseason, but the Canadiens’ power play is clicking which makes Montreal a tough opponent. They have seven power play goals in six games against the Bruins so far and have a few players who are extremely dangerous with a man advantage.
Thomas Vanek is one of those players, and he has three of the seven power play goals for Montreal. Vanek is very good at getting in front, which makes life tough on the goalie and is also skilled at deflecting the puck. Those are the types of things you need to do in order to beat Henrik Lundqvist, so Montreal could pose a problem for the blueshirts if New York takes a lot of penalties.
Why They Want To Play Bruins:
The Rangers lost all three regular season meetings with Boston, but the playoffs are a whole different scene. Heading into the playoffs, every team would say they didn’t want to see the Bruins, but New York has the tools to match them.
It’s tough to say the Rangers are flat-out better than the Bruins in any way, but these two teams are very close in talent. The Bruins play very well at even strength, but the Rangers have the depth to match Boston. Besides that there aren’t too many things that jump out favoring New York, but the Rangers are heading into the conference finals with an abundance of confidence. If anything, the Rangers would receive a chance to get revenge on the Bruins, who eliminated New York in five games in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Why They Don’t Want To Play Bruins:
The Rangers are a physical team, but the Bruins can be even more physical, especially with the presence of Zdeno Chara. New York is definitely more physical than Montreal, but Boston poses a much tougher matchup in that regard. The Bruins are ranked first in the playoffs in 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio, meaning they’ve been the best team at even strength to this point.
Each team is very similar with their game strategies, which would make this series a chess match if Boston can beat the Habs.
As sweet as revenge would be against the Bruins, the Rangers match up far better with the Canadiens. These three teams have possibly the best three goaltenders in the Eastern Conference, making that a virtual coin flip. Besides that, New York’s got a favorable advantage on defense. Montreal is very skilled at the forward position, but so is Boston, which makes defense stand out and more important.
Solid defense proved to be a deciding factor that propelled the Rangers to the third round, and for that reason, the Rangers would rather see Montreal. One thing’s for sure; the Rangers will be ready for either team after a roller coaster ride in round two that has the Rangers’ confidence higher than ever.