Who would've thought that the New York Rangers would hold the high flying Buffalo Sabres to 2 goals over 8 periods of hockey at Madison Square Garden to even their Eastern Conference semifinal at 2 games apiece.
The Sabres were the highest scoring team in the NHL averaging 3.75 goals/game over the course of the regular season. What many don't realize is the Rangers were second to the Devils in the Eastern Conference in Goals Against.
That though doesn't tell half the story. The Rangers through the first half of the season were allowing more goals then they were scoring, 126 goals over the first 41 games a clip of 3.07 goals/game. They only netted 123 goals a 3 goals/game pace.
Over the second half of the season though their system in place the team became very stingy only allowing 90 goals a clip of just 2.2 goals./game. Their offense though didn't suffer the fate that the oppositions did as they still netted 2.9 goals/game.
The team that was able to battle from the back of the pack to just get into the playoffs didn't do it as a high scoring team, but rather as a defense first team that seemed to play best when the game was close.
So where the Sabres seem to thrive on a high flying game, the Rangers like to get down and dirty in the tightly fought contests.
Tomorrow night we will once again see which system is best suited for the rigors of playoff hockey.