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Brad and the Bruins Take Game 1

The first chapter of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins didn’t disappoint on Thursday night at TD Garden. It was the first playoff meeting between the Original Six clubs since 1973. For the 19th time in their last 24 meetings, the margin of victory was a single goal. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it was Boston’s favorite productive pest, Brad Marchand, that would be the hero to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the series.

Things That Went Right For The Rangers

-Breaking up the Dan Girardi-Ryan McDonagh pairing: In the Rangers first round series against the Washington Capitals, we saw the Girardi/McDonagh combo get a lot of time going against Alexander Ovechkin. Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella decided to break up the pairing to try and have at least one of his top guys out there for the bulk of the game. The pairing of McDonagh with Anton Stralman and Girardi with Michael Del Zotto worked well for most of the game

A 16 second stretch spanning the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd period: After Henrik Lundqvist inadvertently knocked the puck in to his own net in the 2nd period after making a save, it looked as if the Rangers would head in to the final frame trailing. A last-gasp rush at the end of the 2nd period allowed McDonagh to blast one by Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to even it up at 1. A mere 14 seconds in to the 3rd period, Ryan Callahan pounced on a turnover and fed the puck to Carl Hagelin. Hagelin dangled, found Derek Stepan in the slot from the sideboards, and just like that, the Rangers had the lead.

Brad Marchand’s game-winning goal in overtime
Brad Marchand’s game-winning goal in overtime from an aerial view.
(Jared Wickerham – Getty Images)

Things That Went Wrong for the Rangers

-Too Many Shots by Boston: I get that the game almost went a full four periods, but if the Blueshirts are only going to get 35 shots in that span, they can’t give up 48. Lundqvist has enough of a work load as it is. Being outshot 16-5 in OT is also inexcusable. And those 48 shots aren’t counting the many posts that the Bruins hit.

-Bring the defense to the Bruins: The Bruins have great chemistry throughout their roster (17 players remain from their Stanley Cup championship from two years ago). They’re going to bring the puck up the ice well, but the Rangers seemed too content on backing up and reacting after Boston gained the zone. Against a team like Washington that has some speedsters, that’s a sound strategy. Against the Bruins, outside of Marchand and Tyler Seguin, they don’t have many speedsters. Trying to disrupt the play before they get a chance to set up would be more effective.

Brad and the Bruins Take Game 1
The Bruins celebrate one of their three goals en route to a Game 1 victory over the Rangers.
(Jared Wickerham – Getty Images)

The flow of Game 1 looks like it’ll be a microcosm of the entire series. The “safe is death” days of John Tortorella are long gone, but with the Bruins possibly playing three rookie defensemen (Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug) again in Game 2, I’d like to see the Rangers attack those young guys more when they’re on the ice. Getting through the neutral zone against the B’s is tough, and you don’t want them falling in love with the stretch pass either. But guys like Hagelin, Stepan, Derick Brassard, and Rick Nash all have the ability to beat an inexperienced d-man one on one.

Game 2 is Sunday at 3PM at TD Garden. The game can be found on NBC in the United States and TSN in Canada.

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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