Rangers must handle Hurricanes ‘relentless pace’ in 2nd-round series, Dave Maloney believes

Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

When Dave Maloney looks at the upcoming Eastern Conference Second Round between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, the former Blueshirts captain and long-time radio analyst sees “two of the top three teams in the League,” and a best-of-7 series that should be so close, it could go either way.

The deciding factor in this series just might be which team can impose its will more. And at the crux of that, Maloney believes, is how the Rangers can slow down the Hurricanes and their “relentless pace” of play.

“When you talk about the Carolina speed, they are fast, but they are relentless. They are relentlessly fast,” Maloney said on the Forever Blueshirts podcast. “The Rangers aren’t taking a second step to speed. [The Hurricanes] are not any faster or quicker than the Rangers are. As a matter of fact, I think the Rangers are quicker because they’re a little better with the puck. But that relentless pace that Carolina plays with, to me, is probably the biggest factor in the series.”

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Dave Maloney breaks down keys for Rangers in playoff series against Hurricanes

Dave Maloney – MSG Networks Credit: MSG Networks

That relentless Carolina pressure is at the forefront of this series. Rangers coach Peter Laviolette discussed it Wednesday, citing how the Hurricanes “attack, attack, attack.”

That means the Rangers defensemen will be under duress and its imperative their forwards play a 200-foot game. If the Rangers can turn the Hurricanes over in the neutral zone and get to their own transition game, that’d be a major plus for the Blueshirts.

“It’s going to be difficult for either team,” Maloney explained. “I think it’s a given the pursuit and the pace of the game, and can [the Rangers] out-Carolina Carolina? Well, I think the question is can Carolina outskill the Rangers? I think all things being equal, the Rangers don’t have to work quite as hard to create opportunities. I think their skillsets are deeper.

“Really the difference is can the Rangers minimize the time spent in their own end under the relentless pressure they’re going to see?”

The Rangers were very effective in diffusing the Hurricanes’ attack in their most recent contest, a thrilling 1-0 Rangers win in Raleigh on March 12. Played in an electric atmosphere and at a playoff-like level by each team, the Rangers eeked out a road win with terrific defensive play, controlling the neutral zone and a dose of Igor Shesterkin’s brilliance between the pipes.

Each team was excellent that evening. But the Rangers were a touch better. That’s how razor-thin the difference should be in this series.

“When the Rangers are on top of their game, they don’t have to work quite as hard. There’s a little more imagination. There’s a little more puck skill deeper into the lineup than there is with Carolina.,” Maloney offered. “But is it in their DNA to defend under Carolina’s relentless pressure?”

That, and many other questions, will soon be answered when this highly anticipated playoff series begins with two games at Madison Square Garden, dates and times to be determined.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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