NHL playoffs: Bruins blow past Rangers 5-2 to grab 2-0 series advantage
After a nailbiter of a Game 1 that ended in overtime, Game 2 between the Bruins and Rangers on Sunday was significantly more one-sided. Boston broke the game open in the second period and coasted to a 5-2 victory, taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals in the process.
Here are some thoughts and observations from Game 2:
• Just when the Bruins' defense is bruised and battered, Boston is getting a fabulous infusion of talent from Torey Krug. The 22-year-old undrafted defenseman made a play that was similar to the one he made in Game 1, only better. Krug scored his first NHL goal in Game 1, pinching in on the play and stepping into a shot to beat Henrik Lundqvist. On Sunday, he picked up his second goal, this time taking a pass in virtually the same spot on the ice, but at his feet. Staying calm, Krug moved the puck between his skates to settle it onto his stick, then fired a shot past the block of Girardi that beat Lundqvist between the pads.
• What a pleasant surprise the Bruins have gotten from their young defense of Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton, who were pressed into service because of the absence of veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden and Andrew Ference. “It’s exciting for our guys to come in and play the way they have,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “It’s always easier when you’re home and you can put them in the right situations.” The best part for Julien: he was able to lower captain Zdeno Chara’s minutes from 38 in Game 1 (albeit with some overtime included) to 27:22 in the second game. When the veterans are all back and healthy, will he still play them or keep one or two of the youngsters in the lineup?
• Julien has encouraged his defensemen to join the rush and create plays, effectively breaking down the backchecking schemes of both the Maple Leafs and Rangers. Though the move is creating chances, it is also creating mistakes. Boston was listed with 16 turnovers in the game compared to just one for New York.
• Leave it to Rangers coach John Tortorella to break out the subtlety when talking about his players. Asked on an off-day why Carl Hagelin hasn’t seen time on the team's struggling power play, which was 2-for-31 entering Game 2, Tortorella tossed the speedy forward under the proverbial bus. “Because he stinks on the power play,” he said. “I don’t know why. I wish I could play him on the power play. Every time I put him on, he stinks.” Gee, coach, how do you really feel? Tortorella went on to amplify his remarks, often reusing the stink description: “I think he’s too quick. He’s a jitterbug and he screws it up. But the power play stinks. It’s true. That’s why he may get an opportunity.” Hagelin ended up getting a whiff of the power play, being used once for 46 seconds, and 17:02 of total ice time during the balance of the game. And in the end, New York failed in five man-advantage chances on Sunday.
• The Rangers alternately experimented with splitting their top defense pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. The two have played together for most of the season, but Tortorella separated them for Game 1. They were back together intermittently on Sunday. New York also tried putting struggling forward Brad Richards at the point on the power play, as well as moving him back to the wing for some shifts. Richards is a seasoned vet, but he looks especially slow during the playoffs. With just one point in nine postseason games, it may be time to sit him.
• Rangers captain Ryan Callahan scored a fantastic goal to tie the game 1-1, knocking a pass from Boston’s Brad Marchand out of midair at New York's blueline and heading in the opposite direction. Along the left boards, Callahan outskated Hamilton and made a swift outside-in move on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, beating him for the score.
• Callahan also made a good play at Marchand’s expense to produce a goal, but their roles were reversed on the marker that gave Boston a 3-2 lead at 12:08 of the second period. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Marchand scooted up the right side of the ice and spun towards the boards, away from Callahan, who failed to switch quickly enough to pick up the trailing Johnny Boychuk once the play went to the net. As a result, Boychuk had ample time to step into a shot that beat Lundqvist as Patrice Bergeron screened him in front.
• Bruins veteran Jaromir Jagr has now gone 18 consecutive playoffs games without a goal, the longest span of his career.
• New York managed three two-on-one breaks in the early part of the second period. The third one finally produced a goal for struggling forward Rick Nash, who poked the puck around Chara at his own blueline, then outraced the Bruins' captain up the ice. Nash went from backhand to forehand and flipped the puck past Rask. It was his first playoff goal of the year and his second career postseason strike. His other tally came on April 23, 2009, when he was a Columbus Blue Jacket. • The Bruins went up 4-2 only 26 seconds into the third period on a goal that we’ve seen before. Remember when Bergeron sent a pass from the right corner to Marchand, who knocked it in from the goalmouth to win Game 1 in overtime? Hit the replay button for Boston’s fourth goal on Sunday. This time, Marchand notched the conversion with Girardi trying to front him. It was a clever shift from Marchand to cut from in back of Girardi to a step in front of him while Girardi wasn’t aware of it. The goal sent the Bruins’ crowd into a serenade of “Lundqvist, Lundqvist.” It was the first time in his career that the Rangers’ ace goalie had surrendered four against the Bruins. Lundqvist did not allow five during any of his regular season starts. In fact, the last time a team thumped him for five was on March 9, 2011 when the Ducks did the dishonors. That was a run of 152 regular season and playoff games for Lundqvist.