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Playoffs 2013Rebound control paramount for Henrik Lundqvist

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | 06:46 PM

Categories: BOS vs NYR, Hockey Night in Canada, Playoffs 2013

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Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist keeps the puck out of the net in a Feb. 12 game against the Bruins. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist keeps the puck out of the net in a Feb. 12 game against the Bruins. "They [Bruins] try to put a lot of pucks at the net and create things from rebounds, what they did in [Game 7 of Round 1] against Toronto," says Lundqvist. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

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One wouldn't know it from Round 1 of the NHL playoffs, when Boston had one line doing much of the scoring, but the energetic and physical Bruins will bring more at New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist than could Washington.

By Jay Greenberg, Special to CBC Sports

Washington got bumped from the playoffs without laying nary a bump on Henrik Lundqvist.

Instead, the Capitals wasted their time in the box on stupid retaliatory penalties, rather than using it for productive message-sending, a bottom line truth not taken into consideration the day after, when Alex Ovechkin suggested there was a conspiracy in the 28-16 power play discrepancy over seven games.

"We got everybody and their brother whining in Washington and I think that's a big reason why they lose that series," blurted out Rangers coach John Tortorella Wednesday. "I think our mindset is very good as far as not letting anything bother us, just getting ready to play each game."

Courtesy of an uncalled Ovechkin board in the first period of Game 7, Ryan McDonagh ended the series with a cut on his cheek and a willingness to turn the other one for however many rounds it takes.

In the one New York just-completed, the most physically punishing Capital probably was their best player, Ovechkin. The Rangers expect to see a different animal in Round 2, even if on the 40th anniversary of the Rangers last series against Boston, Brad Park isn't still around to call another Boston team "blood-thirsty animals."

"They try to go to the net and try to create chances from rebounds and screens," said Lundqvist. "Washington relied more on its skill, Boston will rely more on energy and being physical.

"They try to put a lot of pucks at the net and create things from rebounds, what they did in the last game against Toronto. A lot of goals were scrambles, rebounds and tips.

"They try to get in front of you so it's going to be important to control your rebounds.  It always is but when you play a team that goes hard to the net with a lot of energy, the second and third play will be important.

Working down low

"When I look at Washington, [the Caps] strike right away, Boston is a little bit like us, circling around the net."

Before the Bruins, feeling for bullet holes after a miracle escape against Toronto, resume circling the nets in Game 1 at Boston's TD Garden Thursday night, Tortorella first decided to circle the wagons. He refused to answer any questions about the opponent, even after discussing them in a radio interview Tuesday night.

"I'm not speaking to you guys about it because you always turn my words around," said the coach.

Brother, can you spare a whine? Tortorella, whose team enters this next round in an impenetrable bubble (a 120-minute shutout streak), would rather pick a fight with the media than risk one with the Bruins.

One wouldn't know it from the first round, when only the Nathan Horton- David Krejci-Milan Lucic line scored much against the Leafs, but the Bruins will bring more at Lundqvist than could Washington, which got nothing more than one overtime goal out of a second line anchored by Mike Ribeiro.

For that matter, the Rangers received not a goal from Rick Nash, who, as close to a breakthrough as Tortorella insists is near for the big guy, still doesn't figure to be a load too large for Zdeno Chara.

Where the Rangers would hope to make hay would be in pounding a softer underbelly created by potential absence of defencemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg, neither of whom practised on Wednesday.

There was no telling how soon Marc Staal's vision will clear enough to enable his return to New York's defence but Anton Stralman is proving to be a better player than a year ago and John Moore has added mobility that allowed the Rangers to survive whatever the Caps second, third and fourth lines could throw at New York, which in the end wasn't enough.

Deep teams succeed

Even though the Rangers only had Ryan Clowe for one contest, despite the fact that in Game 5 it appeared they were getting worn down, in the end the deeper team won, which is the way most series are won these days.

Used to be that, other things being fairly equal, the team with the biggest star was inevitable, but that's the exception, no longer the rule.

"We were able to play the way we want to play more consistently because we have a deeper lineup," said Tortorella about the metamorphosis brought by the deadline deal that exchanged Marian Gaborik for Derick Brassard (nine points in the Washington series) Moore and Derek Dorsett.

"I thought I made a mistake in Game 5 of the Washington series by not using enough of the bench.

"Some of that was me; some of it was players just not playing. I think we played our best game of the series in Game 7, I'm hoping that transfers into the start of this series, where I can use the whole bench."

Best one wins. On paper, that's Boston's, though last round you wouldn't have known. Indeed, one never knows, except about Lundqvist not going to let in any softies, and the Bruins, who really haven't played well since a 19-4-3 start, not likely being able to soften him up.

This is why we like the Rangers to win another one in seven.

"You expect to be bumped?" Lundqvist was asked.

"It's the playoffs, he smiled. "They are bumpy."

Follow Jay Greenberg on Twitter @Scribe JG 

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