By Brian Monzo
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Call me crazy, but for once I am expecting the Rangers to go into a game and kick the living heck out of their opponent.
The Rangers and Bruins, the two top teams in the Eastern Conference, are headed toward a head-on collision — and tonight is going to be epic. The Rangers are coming off a weekend sweep of the Flyers and Capitals, and I think we may be looking at the Blueshirts finding a chance to really put a pounding on a team.
Last time these two teams met, the Rangers won in overtime. That was also the same game that Andrew Ference hit Ryan McDonagh from behind.
I think that now, seven points up on the Bruins, the Rangers have a chance to put some real separation between themselves and the rest of the Eastern Conference. There is still a ton of hockey left to be played, but with their confidence likely as high as it has been this season, my gut tells me the Rangers want to put a hurting on the team right behind them.
Is it possible? How would they do that?
It’s no secret the Bruins have a hard-hitting team. The Rangers need to come out and hit harder.
Players like Brandon Prust, Mike Rupp, Brandon Dubinsky and Stu Bickel need to use their size early and provide some room for the Rangers best players. When the ice looks bigger, more scoring chances happen.
If Tim Thomas starts for the Bruins, the Rangers will need to get to him early and put as many shots on him as possible. As great as Thomas is, if they can sneak one by him early, the flood gates will open. Thomas is the kind of goalie that plays great with a lead. If the Rangers grab the early lead, they will find themselves in perfect position to grab the two points.
The Rangers will also need to get their defense involved in the scoring, which hasn’t been an issue this season. It’s going to be hard for their forwards to penetrate the Bruins zone with that gigantic defenseman Zdeno Chara back there. If their d-men join the rush as much as possible, they will be able to avoid his presence.
These kind of games are not pretty. It’s an Original Six matchup, and these two teams are the best in the East.
It’s going to be a war.
If the Rangers plan out their strategy to attack and hit hard, the war is over before it starts. I fully expect the Rangers to come out looking to give the Bruins a beat down.
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