How far will the Rangers get this season?

What The Rangers Can Learn From The Bruins

Spectacular goaltending goes a long way

Spectacular goaltending goes a long way

The 2011 Boston Bruins weren’t the most talented team in the National Hockey League, but a combination of key factors propelled them to the Stanley Cup.  Tremendous goaltending, a shutdown defensive pair and solid depth on the blue line, and a hard-working group of forwards that had just enough offensive talent was the Bruins’ recipe for success. Boston out-lasted the competition this year despite shortcomings like a poor power play and lack of elite offensive talent.

It’d be silly to think that the same formula for victory works every year, but Boston had some traits as a team that we can learn from.

1.  Tim Thomas showed us that teams can still ride unbeatable goaltending through the playoffs.  Thomas just completed one of the better seasons of all time and is clearly the best goalie in the world right now.  However, the Rangers have an all-world goalie themselves in Henrik Lundqvist.  We’ve seen that the Rangers can’t rely on Lundqvist alone to carry them during the playoffs, but with just a little more help an elite goalie can be the difference.  Those that believe the Rangers are nearing contention status believe that adding another strong offensive weapon or two could push them to the next level thanks in large part to their near-Thomas level goaltending.

2.  Boston, while deep up front, showed us that an elite offensive player isn’t necessarily needed.  The Bruins were unique because they had a fantastic combination at even strength and were able to grind teams into submission five-on-five.  Still, the Bruins didn’t have anyone that would be considered among the league’s 20-best forwards.  Their highest regular season point-getters were David Krejci and Milan Lucic with 62 apiece.  In the playoffs, young players like Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin stepped up while veterans like Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron contributed plenty themselves. 

Though Marian Gaborik once might have been in the conversation for the NHL’s best offensive forwards, it’s clear that right now the Rangers don’t have any upper-level talent up front either.  Many believe the Rangers must add Brad Richards or another big-time center, but Boston proved that very deep, very good scoring can be all it takes.  New York clearly doesn’t have enough just yet, but it’s not awful if the Blueshirts don’t add a superstar.  There are other ways.

3.  The power play isn’t everything.  During the course of the regular season, we analyze power plays down to single percentage points.  The reality is that there’s such a huge sample size that it’s difficult to see how a power play is going at the moment, which is the most important thing.  Boston finished 20th during the regular season on the pp and went five-for-62 in the first three rounds with the man advantage, but suddenly went five-for-28 against Vancouver.  Blame some of that on Roberto Luongo, but the Bruins capitalized on the pp when they needed to.  

The Rangers finished 18th on the man-up during the regular season, but down the stretch the power play wasn’t a source of confidence.  The Blueshirts had to have a hard time believing that drawing penalties is even worth trying to do given the way their pp performed late this year.  Boston still had enough playmakers and skill to be a threat when they got hot, which happened at the perfect time.  The Rangers don’t need to focus on having the best power play in the league; it’s a crapshoot and a silly goal.  The key is that they must start developing confidence in their pp unit and show the ability to pick up goals when it matters.  How many times this year were the Rangers down by a goal or two and all TV analysts could talk about was how much a power play goal might help?  The Rangers need their pp to be a threat, but it doesn’t have to be great.

4.  Boston showed us that teams require the right mix of players, young and old.  Marc Savard was the fifth-highest-paid player on the Bruins, but he didn’t even play in the postseason.  Rookie Brad Marchand was fantastic in the Finals and finished the playoffs with 19 points.  Mark Recchi had three goals and four assists in the Finals at age 43.  The point is: Boston had a combination of vets and youngsters that spurred them.  As the Rangers have fielded more homegrown talent lately, people have gotten caught up in the praise for the Rangers’ farm system.  It’s a huge luxury to have a strong pipeline, but teams still must be peppered with guys that have some salt-and-pepper in their playoff beards.  Guys that are still productive but have experience and fill key roles on good teams are necessary, so don’t be so quick to wave goodbye to Vinny Prospal and/or Ruslan Fedotenko; both showed they still have something left.  If it’s not them, the team still needs a couple of veterans that still bring something to the table.  All winning teams need that kind of balance.

5.  Home Ice can’t be indisputably proved as a necessary advantage, but tell that to the Bruins who just thrashed the Canucks in Boston 8-1, 4-0 and 5-2.  The Rangers have been a solid road team for a few years now but can’t seem to get it figured out at Madison Square Garden.  Boston was strong at home all season and they were certainly confident in their own barn when it mattered most.  The Blueshirts need to start showing that home ice is actually an advantage for them.

6.  A versatile, talented defensive group are essential.  Boston isn’t young along the blue line, but the Bruins have a nice group of veterans led by Zdeno Chara.  Dennis Seidenberg had a phenomenal series, and Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid have all played solid hockey.  Power play QB Tomas Kaberle has his critics, but he still filled a role for the Bruins.  The Rangers lack a ton of experience on the back-end, but there’s no reason they can’t grow together and become just as good as Boston’s unit.  Matching Chara’s talent isn’t easy, but top to bottom the Rangers have the kind of physical play and offensive ability in the system to wield a dominant unit in the future.



Don't miss CBC's video montage of the 2010-2011 season.



Season Review:

Breaking Down The Defense >

Breaking Down The Goalies >

Breaking Down The Offense >

Breaking Down The Prospects >

How Three Free Agent Signings In 2007 Have Shaped The Eastern Conference >

Spotlight On Glen Sather >

Spotlight On John Tortorella >

Rangers Land Tim Erixon: What Does It Mean?

More Erixon Trade Fallout >


Player Reviews:

Spotlight On Mats Zuccarello >

Spotlight On Brian Boyle >

Spotlight On Matt Gilroy >

Spotlight On Ruslan Fedotenko >

Spotlight On Brandon Prust >

Spotlight On Bryan McCabe >

Spotlight On Alex Frolov >

Spotlight On Michael Del Zotto >

Spotlight On Martin Biron >

Spotlight On Brandon Dubinsky >

Spotlight On Marc Staal >

Spotlight On Steve Eminger >

Spotlight On Henrik Lundqvist >

Spotlight On Wojtek Wolski >

Spotlight On Sean Avery >

Spotlight On Dan Girardi >

Spotlight On Erik Christensen >

Spotlight On Ryan McDonagh >

Spotlight On Vinny Prospal >

Spotlight On Derek Stepan >

Spotlight On Marian Gaborik >

Spotlight On Chris Drury >

Spotlight On Artem Anisimov >

Spotlight On Mike Sauer >

Spotlight On Ryan Callahan >


Draft Profiles:

The Last 15 Years Of Pick #15 >

Zack Phillips >

Sven Bartschi >

Mark Scheifele >

Mika Zibanejad > 

Mark McNeill >

Brandon Saad >

Joel Armia >

Nicklas Jensen >

Alexander Khokhlachev >

Tyler Biggs >

Matt Puempel >

Rickard Rakell >

Mario Lucia >

Tomas Jurco >

Dmitri Jaskin >

Phillip Danault >

Rocco Grimaldi >

Ty Rattie >

Daniel Catenacci >

Vladislav Namestnikov >

Nick Shore >

Stefan Noesen >

Boone Jenner >

Matthew Nieto >

Vincent Trocheck >

Colin Jacobs >

Michael St. Croix >

Seth Ambroz >


Free Agency:

Plan A: Sign Brad Richards >

Plan B: Trade For A Top Center >


Posted by Kevin Baumer | June 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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