Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who Should We Be Cheering For? Pt. 2

Tonight's Habs/Sabres matchup will go a long way toward resolving this issue...


Matchup: The Bruins are a sort of doppelganger for the Habs, which always makes their matchups intriguing. Montreal will want to play an up-tempo game, and Boston will slow it down. The result will likely come down to which team plays with more focus.
Record vs. Bruins: Split a pair of shootouts, but are 0-3 in regulation games against Boston.
Notable Performances: It's mostly bad news. Carey Price (3.13 and .886) doesn't seem to play the Bruins with confidence, and neither do Kovalev (1-0-1, -4) or Komisarek (0-0-0, -2, broken face).
Recent play: Total meltdown in all facets of the organization, with only slight recovery this week.

Clutch players: Kovalev, Schneider, and Tanguay (Cup-winning goal) bring experience, but calling them "clutch" might be a stretch.
Coaching: Gainey hasn't shown that he can do more with this team than Carbo did.
Injury Situation: Lang and Bouillon are out. Don't be shocked if Kovalev comes up "hurt".

Playoff history: Lots. Montreal has won the past 3 series ('02, '04, '08) and has a 24-7 overall lead. 152 games in 31 series are both league records.
Tough barn: Extremely. The only upside is the likelihood that the crowd will turn against the home team.

Overall: B-minus. Negatives: This series reeks of "upset" and would undoubtedly take a physical toll on the Bruins if they were to make it past. Positives: Regardless of all else, the entire season would be declared a success if Boston ended the Habs' centennial by chasing them off the ice to a chorus of boos in the BellForum. This is a high-risk, high-reward matchup.


Matchup: New York is the most talented of the potential opponents, and plays a conservative game not unlike Boston's. This would very likely be a long, low-scoring series.
Record vs. Bruins: Split 2 regulation games, Rangers won a shootout.
Notable performances: Um... Korpiskoski (0-2-2) is the only Ranger with more than 1 point vs. the Bruins, other than Antropov (1-1-2) who played mostly for the Leafs. Lundqvist put up a stirling 1.96, .934. And let's not forget Avery's shenanigans with the Stars...
Recent play: Warming up after a terrible February; the trade deadline was a turning point.

Clutch players: Drury is not a man you want to encounter in the playoffs. Lundqvist is waiting patiently for his diva moment.
Coaching: Tortorella has a way of motivating teams to overachieve.
Injuries: Nothing major.

Playoff history: For the past two years, the Rangers have pulled off a first-round upset. They are 3-6 in playoff series against Boston.
Tough barn: MSG itself isn't tough, but the media pressure around this series would be intense.

Overall: D-minus. Go through the checklist -- hot team, good goalie, good coach, lots of clutch veterans, intense media pressure on a matchup between a young, fragile #1 seed and a team that's pulled first-round upsets for two years running. I'll pass, thanks.

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Unknown said...

If MSG isn't a tough barn, when's the last time the Bruins won in New York?

The Bastahd said...

I could be wrong here but I think Boston is actually 6-25 against Montreal in playoff series. Weird bit is that we won four straight at one point...

Tom said...

Under playoff conditions I'd consider MSG a less fearsome barn than: Montreal, Buffalo, Philly, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Detroit, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, San Jose, and possibly Raleigh. The crowd in NYC never seems to be quite as raucous, and the players not quite as rattled by the noise, as in those buildings. That puts MSG near the middle of the league in terms of discomfort.

But the X factor would be the NYC media, which I think would be detrimental to a young team from Boston in its first real attempt at a long run.