Found April 26, 2013 on Blue Seat Blogs:
  Pick a team, any team… With the Rangers finally clinching a playoff spot last night with their win over Carolina, the final game of the season against the Devils has lost some significance.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m tremendously grateful that the boys from Newark don’t get to play spoiler against us a week after we eliminated them from postseason contention.  However, the game could be important when it comes to shuffling out the bottom of the Eastern Conference deck. The Rangers, Islanders and Senators currently sit 6-8 in the East with 54 points.  The Sens hold a game in hand on both the Rangers and Isles.  At the moment, the Rangers hold the tiebreaker with 21 regulation wins to the Senators’ and Islanders’ 20.  As we know, the Rangers only remaining opponent is New Jersey on Saturday, while the Isles only have lowly Buffalo remaining, and Ottawa has Philly and Boston.  The final few games could have the bottom three spots in the conference shake out in a number of ways. This got me thinking, out of the four possible opponents for the Blueshirts in the first round, is there really a preferred matchup?  As the standings currently, well, stand, the Rangers could potentially matchup against Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington, or slightly less likely Montreal.  Let’s have a gander at how the Rangers match up against each one… Pittsburgh Penguins If it wasn’t for the absurd start to this season by Chicago, the hockey world might be more aware of what an absolute wrecking ball the Pittsburgh Penguins are.  This team is bursting at the seams with talent, to the extent that it could lose Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Letang for extended periods of time throughout the season and still run away with the conference.  Fortunately, most of the Pens talent lies up front. Aside from the circus that was the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia series last season, generally speaking, the playoffs are an offensively depressed environment.  This is really the biggest weakness for Pitt.  Aside from Brooks Orpik, none of the Pens defenders are particularly good, well, defensively.   Marc-Andre Fleury is another performance wild card.  The Flower has had an solid, but unexceptional year and although I am a big fan of his talent, he is prone to streaky play and has a tendency to fall apart after a bad goal or two. From a systems standpoint, the Penguins play the same 2-1-2 forecheck that the Rangers employ, and a hybrid strong side overload/low zone collapse in their own end.  They utilize the standard umbrella powerplay and diamond penalty kill that most NHL squads prefer.  As Dave mentioned the last time these teams met, there are no surprises here. Boston Bruins The Bruins are a strange case.  They are obviously a well constructed, talented roster, but part of me thinks they might be the best matchup for the Rangers.  The Bruins have the offensive talent to play a run and gun style, but generally speaking, they play a more defensively responsible system, as their 1-2-2 and 1-4 hybrid trap will show.  They are used to playing low-scoring, tight checking games and picking their spots on the counter. Boston employs several large players on the blue line, which is the backbone of their physical style.  They don’t call them the big, bad Bruins for nothing.  Zdeno Chara is likely to make life difficult for Rick Nash, which means the team’s new found offensive balance will have to play a major role in any Rangers’ victory. Tuukka Rask is having a quietly Vezina caliber season in Boston and is quickly emerging as a borderline elite number-one starter.  He’s not going to make it easy on any opponent the B’s take on the first round.  And none of this even touches on Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, or Brad Marchand.  The Bruins are a deep team. Washington Capitals  The Caps are a difficult team to nail down.  After an absolutely dreadful start under freshman coach Adam Oates, it seems the team is starting to drink the kool-aid.  His systems are complicated, as every basic system the Caps run is a hybrid of some sort.  Oates employs a hybrid 1-2-2/2-1-2 forecheck, a hybrid overload/low zone collapse defense, and a hybrid 1-3-1/umbrella powerplay.  The only thing simple is their diamond penalty kill.  You can see why it took 20 games for the lads to get it all sorted. And while all of this was happening, Alex Ovechkin got an Olympian fiancee, a buzz cut, went gray and all of a sudden finds himself at the top of the NHL’s goal scoring race.  Braden Holtby has started to reign in his aggressiveness and round into form, and should be a very difficult assignment. The Caps are probably the most flawed team the Rangers could matchup against from a roster construction standpoint, but are well coached, dangerous offensively and heating up at the right time. Montreal Canadiens The Habs are probably the least likely matchup for the Rangers in the first round.  They currently sit at 61pts, tied with Boston, who has a game in hand.  The Habs do have the tie breaker on regulation wins, but only by one.  The team that ultimately emerges will get the number two seed and the Northeast Division title, and the other will take the number four seed, and a date with the Leafs. As we all know, the Habs have been an absolute nightmare for the Rangers recently, and the Bell Centre has been a house of horrors for our beloved goaltender.  The Canadiens are small, quick, aggressive and seem to just have the Rangers number, especially in their own barn. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, they are another group that uses hybrid systems.  Under new coach Michel Therrien, the Habs utilize a hybrid 1-2-2/2-1-2 forecheck, similar to the Caps.  Their defensive system is a little different.  They use an overload strategy at first, mostly due to their overall team size to force turnovers along the wall.  Once the opposing team gains control, they switch to a low zone collapse. Special teams are a little less interesting, using an umbrella powerplay and switch between diamond and box penalty kill formations depending on the oppositions powerplay. The extent to which the discussion has focused on team systems shows how the Habs do not heavily rely on a small group of superstar players.  They have some very good ones; Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, Rene Bourque and presumable Norris finalist PK Subban, but they play a very team oriented game.  Also, although he has struggled of late, Carey Price is still one of the best goalies in the NHL.  This is a very dangerous team. Conclusion In the “new” NHL where parity is king, there are no “good” playoff matchups in the traditional sense.  Given the scorching hot play of the Caps, our difficulties with Montreal and the general awesomeness of Pittsburgh, I guess I’ll take Boston by default.  But you know what they say, you reap what you sow… What do you think BSB faithful?  Now that the Blueshirts have locked up a spot in the dance, who is your preferred first round matchup?  Sound off in the comments below. Tweet
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Pyatt, Callahan among most disciplined Rangers

Gerry Broome/Associated Press It’s always interesting looking at the penalty statistics each season, and this year is no different. PIMs are a bit misleading, as there’s no real difference between someone who takes undisciplined stick penalties and some heat of the moment roughing/fighting penalties. Ok, fights are easily tracked, but the minor penalties aren’t in the PIMs...

Rangers pick up two big points, possible playoff scenarios

Scott Levy/Getty Images Sorry again about no goal breakdown, but the Rangers picked up two big points against the Devils today, winning by a score of 4-0.  Hank bagged his second shutout of the season and Rick Nash enjoyed a dominating performance with two goals.  There were contributions from all over the ice, including two point performances from Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards...

Rangers recall Kris Newbury

After last night’s win that clinched a playoff berth, the Rangers called up forward Kris Newbury. This is likely due to the Ryane Clowe injury, as the  power forward was injured in the game and did not return. The Rangers had no spare forwards (to the point where Matt Gilroy had to dress for a late-scratch of Arron Asham). Newbury will be with the club as long as both Clowe and...

No Update on Clowe; Cally Doesn't Practice; Dorsett Awaits CT Scan

Lots of injury news as Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record says that while Ryane Clowe did not practice today, John Tortorella expects him to be an important player for the Rangers in the playoffs. ...with the Newbury recall, it's highly unlikely he'll be in the Rangers line-up against the Devils tomorrow, however, Torts' comments has me optimistic about his return...

Torts: This Year Was a Sideway Step; Almost Stepan for Nash

Yesterday, John Tortorella was a guest on the Michael Kay Radio Show (ESPN Radio) and discussed how this year, despite the Rick Nash trade, was a sideway step for the team and just because the Rangers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals didn't mean the Finals were a guarantee... Upload MP3 and download MP3 using free MP3 hosting from Tindeck. ...this was the second...

No Word on Clowe, But Newbury Recalled

There is still no word on Ryane Clowe's condition after he was forced to leave last night's game with either a leg injury or an elbow to the head by Bobby Sanguinetti. Larry Brooks at the New York Post speculates that it's a right leg injury. In an early indication of how bad it might be, the Rangers recalled Kris Newbury after the game. ...no idea what the injury...

Rangers rally past 'Canes, clinch playoff berth

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan scored 2:55 into overtime, and New York rallied to clinch a third straight Eastern Conference playoff berth by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Thursday night. Brad Richards tied it for the Rangers with 2:57 remaining in regulation after New York blew an early 2-0 lead and fell behind already-eliminated Carolina. Derek Stepan and...

Late bounces push Rangers back into playoffs

The New York Rangers are headed back to the Eastern Conference playoffs because all the important bounces down the stretch went their way. One ricocheted off the boards and into the net. Another glanced off a post on its way in. Captain Ryan Callahan scored 2:55 into overtime, and New York rallied to clinch a third straight playoff berth by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on...

Captain Clutch: Ryan Callahan’s overtime winner in Carolina sends Rangers to Stanley Cup Playoffs

The New York Rangers entered Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes needing a win or a regulation loss by the Winnipeg Jets at home against the Montreal Canadiens to punch their ticket to the postseason.  At practice Thursday morning leading goal scorer Rick Nash said, “We’re not scoreboard watching.  It’s in our hands, so we want [...]

A Glass Half Full Look at the Blueshirts

When it comes to New York Rangers' fans and the way they view their favorite hockey club, it is always an extreme point of view. Either fans are in love and ecstatic about their hockey club or they absolutely despise and are fed up with their so called favorite NHL team. There is never a middle ground. With two games remaining and just one win needed to clinch a postseason...

Why He's The Captain

When the season is hanging in the balance, you look to your leaders to step-up and carry the team to the finish line. And that's exactly what the Rangers captain Ryan Callahan did last night. One look at the above stat line from last night tells you all you need to know about Callahan's influence and impact on the Rangers. Here's video Cally's overtime winner...

Rangers vs. Devils (Game 48)

The New York Rangers (25-18-4) host the New Jersey Devils (19-18-10) at Madison Square Garden starting at 3:00 p.m. For a preview go to Yahoo! Sports. Rangers Game Notes TV: NBC; Radio: ESPN Radio 98.7FM, XM 212 Live Stream (Don't click on ads in stream, may download virus): http://www.firstrow1.eu/watch/183329/1/watch-new-york-rangers-vs-new-jersey-devils.html...

Rangers 4, Hurricanes 3, OT

The New York Rangers (25-18-4) defeated the Carolina Hurricanes (19-24-4) by the score of 4-3 in overtime, tonight. For a box score, go to Yahoo! Sports. ...welcome to the playoffs Rangers fans!!!!!!! As has been the case all season, the Blueshirts didn't make it easy on their fans tonight, but who cares. They're in the playoffs and anything can happen. ...Ryan "...

Rangers 4, Devils 0

  Today was a little less tense than previous games. No longer were playoff hopes on the line. Still, it was an important game. Playoff seeding was on the line, and a loss would have locked the Rangers in as the eight seed. Johan Hedberg was in goal for the Devils, instead of the usual appearance from Martin Brodeur, but it was still a similar result to the previous matchup...

This was fun

(CHL.ca) OK I won't deny it, I love the "game after something happened" in large part because you don't know what will happen as was the case on Friday night for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects. One thing was for sure and that was the paying customer got their money's worth (well depending on which team you were rooting for). In Baie...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.