It’s New York and Boston all over again.
Over the last decade Boston fans have already witnessed the Giants beating the Patriots twice in Super Bowls, a dramatic seven-game American League championship series win by the Red Sox over the Yankees in 2004 and, just two weeks ago in the NBA playoffs, the Knicks eliminate a proud, but injured-depleted Celtics’ squad in six games.
Now for first time in 40 years the Bruins and Rangers clash in the NHL playoffs, this time in the Eastern Conference semifinals beginning today at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN) at TD Garden.
The Bruins are coming off their historic 5-4 Game 7 overtime win against Toronto Monday while in another Game 7, the Rangers dispatched the Washington Capitals 5-0 behind Henrik Lundqvist’s 35-save performance. Lundqvist posted back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 to close out the Caps.
Boston opened the NHL’s lockout-shortened season with a 3-1 home win against the Rangers on Jan.19. Four days later New York prevailed at home with a 4-3 overtime encounter. The Rangers beat Boston the last time the two teams met on Feb. 12 with a 4-3 shootout win at TD Garden.
The storyline for Boston entering tonight’s game is whether all or any of their injured veteran defensemen will be able to play. Andrew Ference and Wade Redden didn’t play in Game 7 Monday and Dennis Seidenberg played two shifts before leaving the game with an injury. The loss of the three veterans means the Bruins may have to rely on three inexperienced defensemen against the Rangers.
Torey Krug was called up from Providence on Tuesday and will likely be paired with Adam McQuaid. Rookie Dougie Hamilton will match up with Zdeno Chara and, Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from Providence prior to Game 5 with Toronto after Redden was injured, will likely be paired with Johnny Boychuk.
On offense the Bruins have been led by Dave Krejci, who leads everyone in the playoffs after the first round with 13 points including five goals.
Boston’s line of Krejci, Milan Lucic, who scored Boston’s third goal in the final two minutes of regulation on Monday and, Nathan Horton (four goals, seven points) has been the team’s top combo.
But the Bruins are capable of getting more production from their other lines. Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-winner Monday, has been consistent centering the second line, but linemates Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr are still searching for their first playoff goal.
The same for Tyler Seguin, who sparked Boston to the Stanley Cup championship two seasons ago.
Still the Bruins are averaging a goal better than the Rangers in the playoffs. In their series against Washington, New York scored just one goal in three of the games (winning one of them) and were shutout in another contest.
Game 2 is slated for Sunday at 3 p.m. in Boston before Games 3 and 4 shift to New York next Tuesday and Thursday.