NEW YORK CITY – There were plenty of history lessons taking place inside the Bruins' dressing room after an optional skate at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday morning prior to Game 3 against the New York Rangers. The Bruins know they have the upper hand in the best-of-seven series after taking the first two games in Boston, but they’re also well aware that the Blueshirts were in a similar predicament in the first round against the Washington Capitals before they turned things around in the series.
So the Black and Gold are both looking not to repeat recent Stanley Cup playoff history, and also hoping to show some killer instinct after letting the Maple Leafs off the mat after holding a 3-1 lead in their own first round series.
“We know what happened against Washington with them being down 2-0. We want to make sure we don’t take it for granted, and we know they play an extremely hard game. This would be a completely different series if we didn’t get a couple of lucky bounces,” Brad Marchand said. “We want to make sure we bringing our best [for Game 3] and hope for the best.”
“We try to learn from every situation. Being up against Toronto, we realize that let them back into it. We didn’t have the killer instinct. Whether it’s the power play or the penalty kill, we want to kill their momentum to kill their game. We want to make sure we step up and do the job. We did that last game, and we want to make sure we bring out best. They’re going to come out hard, and if we’re not prepared they’ll roll over us.”
There were a couple of big developments that helped turn things around for the Rangers in the first round against the Caps. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were teamed together as a defensive pairing that shut down Alex Ovechkin, and Henrik Lundqvist took it to the highest level while pitching shutouts in Games 6 and 7.
The latter part of the Washington series was New York at its best, and the Bruins are well aware they may be seeing that tonight at the Rangers' home rink.
“I think we just have to be better as a team. As a road team you have to better because the home crowd is going to be behind, and there’s going to be some desperation from the other team,” Claude Julien said. “The lull that we in the second period during Game 2 is something we can’t afford to have here tonight.”
At the end of the day, the Rangers are a tough team to read. They have the talent and the grittiness to win in the playoffs, but something seems missing from their postseason mix at this point. Brad Richards is invisible and ineffective while playing 12 minutes a night on the fourth line, Michael Del Zotto was a tollbooth allowing opponents through without much of a fight in Game 2 and their coach, John Tortorella, is saying his own players “stink” on the power play.
It was telling when Tortorella said the biggest adjustments the Rangers had to make between Game 1 and Game 2 was “off the ice.”
Maybe that all goes away if they play up to their Rangers reputation in Games 3 and 4 at Madison Square Garden, but it also appears to be a hockey club in disarray that could easily fold in four or five games just as a troubled Flyers club did against the Bruins two years ago en route to the Stanley Cup.
It’s simply up to the Bruins to give a reeling Rangers club a few more reasons to become disinterested in a series they’re already trailing.