‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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The Boston Bruins are a difficult nut to crack. Boston were out-shot by the Rangers 19-3 during the third period, yet the Blueshirts couldn’t find a way to beat Tim Thomas after Marian Gaborik’s opening goal in the first period.
“They’re a good hockey team. There’s no question,” Ryan Callahan said following Sunday’s 2-1 defeat. “They come hard, they’ve got a lot of talent up front. I thought both teams played well tonight, it was just a matter of them getting that extra one where we don’t,” the Rangers’ captain explained.
Last season’s defending Stanley Cup champions played the Rangers about as tough as any opponent could in every aspect of the game.
Whenever these two rivals have met, the margin between winning and losing has been very slim. At their best, the Bruins are an extremely difficult to break down defensively.
Boston collapsed into a defensive shell after Patrice Bergeron’s second period powerplay goal pulled the Bruins ahead. It was almost as if the Bruins were daring the Rangers to take as many shots as possible, knowing they were limiting real, actual chances. Even though the Rangers generated a high number of shots, few actually tested Thomas.
“It was a tight game. Not a lot of scoring chances. There’s a good team when they get the lead. We know that. It was tough. After they got the lead, they really shut it down. We worked hard, we tried but we just came up a little short today,” Lundqvist told reporters post-game.
The Bruins’ superior special teams made the difference on Sunday night. Their penalty kill is a lot tougher than it appears on paper. The Bruins rank 10th overall in the NHL in penalty kill percentage but they played like an elite unit on Sunday night.
“I think everybody matches up through our lineup pretty well. We have a lot of similarities. They play stingy defense and it’s tough to get goals. These kind of games, it’s kind of whoever makes the first mistake or special teams (coming) through. I think that was the case tonight,” Ryan McDonagh explained.
Although it was a difficult loss, it’s only a temporary setback for the Rangers. The players inside the locker room weren’t getting too down because the whole of what they’ve accomplished this season outweighs Sunday’s defeat.
“It sucks to lose. Always. No one’s happy in here but we can learn from it and get better,” Brian Boyle stated.
Boyle continued, “Tomorrow will be positive. We’ll come back to work. I’m sure it will be a little easier (tomorrow.) Right now, it’s a bad taste. We’re not going to get on each other or fall apart as a team obviously. We’re obviously going to stick together.”
Another difficult challenge presents itself when the Rangers face the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The Flyers play a similarly physical, grinding game like the Bruins and are coming off an energy-charged 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It will be a clean slate for the Rangers to iron out some of their deficiencies and attempt to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference.
Are the Bruins the Rangers toughest Eastern Conference foe? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.