The Eastern Conference Finals of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs continues on a path we predicted in our last blog -- Rangers in 6. As the teams begin a mini 2 out of 3 mini series to decide the winner, let's take a look at what has happened so far:
- Without question Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundvquist has been the star of the series and the main reason the teams are tied after 4 games. Without his superior goaltending this series might be over.
- I have been amazed at the ferociousness of the Devils' forechecking. New Jersey had a lot of success vs. Philly in the second round but I am surprised that the younger, quicker and more mobile Rangers defensmen have such difficulty getting out of their zone.
- Equally surprising has been to this point the lack of adjustment to the Devil's attack by the Rangers and their coaching staff. New York has made no significant adjustment either between games or in between period to turn the tide and that bothers me.
- As expected it has been a physical and low scoring series and it is also clear that the Rangers' biggest edge is the one that matters most...in goal. Game 5 in New York is a must for the Rangers in our prediction of a six game series and we do look for some changes to change the tide of relentless Devils forechecking as the series resumes at Madison Square Garden.
Here are some things to look for:
- Brandon Prust returns from his one game suspension and he will add to the Rangers forecheck and pestering of Martin Brodeur. The line of Prust, Boyle or Mitchell and Ruff has been the best line for New York in this series because they play physical and beat up the NJ defensemen when they are on the ice. Look for more ice time for this trio.
- Kreider and Hagelin will continue to use their speed to spread the ice. Look for the Rangers to try long passes or lobs to let these two chase down loose pucks with their unmatched speed in this series
- Look for the Rangers to change their coverages in the defensive zone to limit the Devils possession in Rangers territory. NY will not give so much room to the point and focus on fighting for control of the puck at their own blue line.
- From an offense standpoint some of the Rangers must become more active and not so much as passengers in this series. Stepan, Amnisimov,Gaborik, Hagelin and Callahan need to get on the score sheet alot in the rest of this series.
Said it before, and we'll say it again...Prediction: Rangers in 6.