Who Should the Rangers Want to Play?

Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto

The question that is on everyone's mind right now.

The Rangers have defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins after seven emotional, intense games and have earned the right to compete in the Eastern Conference Finals. The consensus around the Banter, other Rangers blogs, and on twitter is that Rangers fans should be rooting for the Habs to win tonight, which is pretty understandable when you consider that the Bruins knocked the Rangers out of the playoffs in 5 games last year and they certainly don't look like a less potent team this time around. However, hoping for the Bruins over the Habs just might not be the best of ideas.

Both the Bruins and the Habs played well against the Rangers in the 2013-14 season. The Rangers played tight, frustrating games against the Habs (just 4 goals from both teams in 3 games). Cam Talbot started two of the three games against the Habs and got the only win against either potential opponent with a 22 save shutout against Montreal on November 16th.

The games against the Bruins this season were cut from a very different cloth. Although the Rangers played disciplined hockey against the Bruins and actually had some success on the power play, they were outplayed by the black and gold in all three contests. The Rangers most recent defeat at the hands of the Bruins was a 6-3 pounding on March 2nd in which the Rangers outshot the Bruins 42-33 but simply couldn't beat the team that most people agree you have to beat if you want to come out of the East and be in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Team

Record vs Rangers

GF

GA

Significant Injuries

PP

PK

Boston Bruins

3-0-0

11

6

Seidenberg, McQuaid

0/5

2/12

Montreal Canadiens

2-1-0

3

1

Galchenyuk

1/11

1/11

So... it's bad news either way. Great. Even with the Rangers carrying a three game winning streak into the Eastern Conference Finals there is some very stiff competition coming their way. Both the Bruins and the Habs are very scary teams not only because of what they've accomplished in this year's playoffs but because of their records against the Rangers this season.

Who's Scarier, Tuukka or Price?

Can I pick both? Because both had amazing seasons and have been sharp in the 2014 NHL Playoffs. If push comes to shove I think you have to give the nod to Tuukka Rask because of the defense in front of him and what he's been able to accomplish over the past few seasons. However, Carey Price has absolutely dominated the Rangers this season.  Price allowed just one goal on seventy-five shots in his two games against the Rangers this season. Yikes.

The Rangers beat the Penguins because Henrik Lundqvist outplayed Marc-Andre Fleury, plain and simple. Outplaying Price or Rask is going to be a much taller task for the King. He's totally capable of outplaying either of them but right now I'd have to say I'm hoping the goalie we're peppering with shots in the Eastern Conference Finals is Carey Price. Rask and the Bruins defense are just too damn good.

Which Team is the Better Match-Up for the Rangers?

It's the Habs, but not by much. The Rangers played tight, close games against the Habs and those are the kind of games that the Rangers are accustomed to playing and winning. The Habs are also a little smaller than the Bruins and we saw what kind of a toll a physical series can take on the Rangers. I think most of the team is still black and blue from playing the Flyers. The answer to this question isn't as black and white as most people think it is but when you look at the rosters and how both teams have played against the Rangers in recent history but when push comes to shove I'll take playing the Habs over playing the Bruins. Plus, the Habs have Douglas Murray which is just fantastic.

---

My summary; if we get to choose, we should choose the Habs... but we should also hope for their Game Seven to go into twenty-six overtimes and for all of their players to be so tired that they forfeit the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Asking too much? Picking the speedy, high-scoring Habs (leading playoff teams with 3.3 G/G) over the balanced, physical, and shut-down Bruins (leading playoff teams with 2.09 GA/G) is a lot like picking to fight a lion over a tiger. You're crapping your pants thinking about fighting either of them (and really hoping you have a tremendously reliable and accurate firearm in your hands) but you can at least scamper up a tree and hope for the best against a lion. The only place you're safe from the Tiger is in space and then you have to deal with space tigers.

So Blueshirt Banter, who are you rooting for tonight? Why? Do you feel better about our chances against Price, Subban, Vanek, Pacioretty, and the Habs or Tuukka, Chara, Lucic, Bergeron, and the Bruins? I'm admittedly nervous about facing either team but with Hank playing on top of his game and the Rangers coming together in the way that they have I honestly believe that we can beat anyone. I believe. I believe that the Rangers can return to the Stanley Cup Finals with this fast, balanced, deep team that looks healthy, dangerous, and united. I believe. Do you?

Let me know what you think in the comments. Watch out for space tigers.

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