NHL Playoffs : Rangers, Maple Leafs, Whalers Again Seeking Upsets
After knocking off the highly regarded Philadelphia Flyers in five tough games, the New York Rangers are looking for easier pickings against the Washington Capitals in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It should be a little bit easier than Philly,” New York forward Tomas Sandstrom said as the Rangers prepared to face the Capitals in the best-of-seven Patrick Division final starting tonight in Landover, Md. “I think we can beat them. It’s good to start with two games on the road--we only have to win one.”
The Rangers’ victory over the Flyers was not the only upset of the first round. The Toronto Maple Leafs swept the Chicago Blackhawks in three games in the Norris Division, while the Hartford Whalers did the same to the Quebec Nordiques in the Adams Division.
Philadelphia, Chicago and Quebec had all won the regular-season championships in their divisions.
The Rangers, the NHL’s third-best defensive team statistically this year, will have to play the Capitals without captain Ron Greschner. He suffered an injured hand in Tuesday night’s victory at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
“For the first five months of the season, we didn’t have all of our people available,” Ranger Coach Ted Sator said. “Only for the last month did we have most of them. We’re not counting on Greschner right now. I’m just going to approach it one game at a time.
“We will have to reload and regroup and shore up our defense and replace Greschner.”
In Montreal, meanwhile, General Manager Serge Savard of the Canadiens said he was “afraid” of the Whalers.
“We are going to have our hands full,” Savard said. “The Nordiques faced one of the hottest teams in our division, if not in the league.”
Canadien Coach Jean Perron said he hoped to continue the disciplined type of hockey that helped Montreal knock off Boston.
“Discipline won it for us in the first two games (3-1, 3-2), and discipline was more important to us in the third game,” Perron said, referring to the Canadiens’ 4-3 victory on Saturday night after trailing, 1-0, in the first period.
Along with the Rangers-Capitals series, Hartford will play Montreal tonight in the opening of the Adams Division final.
On Friday night, Toronto will take on St. Louis in the Norris Division final. The Smythe Division final will also start Friday night, with the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers playing host to the Calgary Flames.