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The Bruins and Rangers face off in the conference semi-finals in what should be a very entertaining series featuring two teams from the original 6. It's not Red Sox vs. Yankees but it's still Boston vs. New York and there's no love lost between those two cities when it comes to their sports teams. Would you believe that this is the first playoff meeting between these two teams in 40 years? We're talking Bobby Orr, Gerry Cheevers, Phil Esposito, Brad Park and Ed Giacomin. Ah, memories.
This time around, 5 Dimes Sportsbook has the Bruins slightly favored with a price of -135 making the price on the Rangers +115 or even money to win the series. Of course, they also list several other prop bets such as how many games the series goes an so on, as well as each individual game.
The Bruins and Rangers played 3 times this season with the Rangers winning 2 of those games. Two games went to overtime with the Rangers winning both of those, one via shootout. The Bruins won the other game 3-1. The Bruins outshot the Rangers 103-83 overall in the three games.
So what does that tell us? Not much. It simply tells us that we can expect a series filled with 1 goal games and more than likely a few overtimes. Much like just about every other NHL playoff series we have seen this year. There's certainly nothing we can use from those 3 games to handicap this series. Like the NBA, the NHL has two seasons. The regular season and the playoffs. What they did recently, carries more weight than what they did a few months ago.
Both of these teams are in off 7 game series that included spectacular finishes. For the Rangers, that spectacular finish came by blowing the Capitals out of their own building 5-0 in a game which saw the Rangers offense, which has struggled on the road, wake up. Meanwhile, all the Bruins did was stage one of the biggest playoff comebacks in Stanley Cup history in their game 7 with the Leafs, winning 5-4 in OT after trailing by 3 in the 3rd period.
Both teams obviously have some momentum. But for us, we think this series comes down to Henrik Lundqvist vs. Tuukka Rask. Baseball has it's pitchers. Hockey has it's goaltenders. A hot goaltender can put a team on his back and carry them through the rough spots. A team can get outplayed and outshot yet still get a "w" due to a hot goaltender. With that in mind, we'd have to give the edge to the Rangers and Lundqvist. The guy is on fire. Shutouts in back to back crucial games, something that hasn't been done in over a decade. Lundqvist is the first goalie to post shutouts in Games 6 and 7 of a playoff series since Dominik Hasek with Detroit in the 2002 Western Conference Final against Colorado.
The teams have proven to be fairly even. The goaltending will be the difference in this series and the edge goes to the Rangers. Lundqvist has been knocked by New York fans for years. The Lundqvist haters like to bring up the fact that he hasn't won anything yet. Well, he may or may not carry the Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals, but one thing is for certain. He is one of the top goaltenders, perhaps top 3, in the NHL. The Rangers will go as far as Lundqvist can carry them. All other things being equal in this series, we will go with the one thing that's not. Lundqvist and the Rangers +115 to win the series over the Bruins.
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