The North York Rangers will not have a long time to celebrate or recover from the emotional Game 6, series-clinching win over the Buffalo Jr. Sabres as the Conference Finals are set to begin on Monday.
Yet it should not be difficult for head coach John Dean’s troops to get up for this match-up as the Southwest Final is a best-of-seven ‘Battle of Bathurst’ clash between the Rangers and the St. Michael’s Buzzers.
The two organizations have no love lost for each other as proximity and familiarity has bred extreme contempt; and where there is contempt, there is sure to be fantastic action.
Here is a breakdown of the up-coming series:
Regular season head-to-head stats:
PAST RESULTS – Rangers win series 4-1 by a combined score of 26-17
10/14/12 St. Michaels 3 at North York 7
11/09/12 North York 4 at St. Michaels 3
12/07/12 North York 4 at St. Michaels 3 OT
12/23/12 St. Michaels 2 at North York 5
02/17/13 St. Michaels 5 at North York 1
North York: Liams Kerins (4G, 6A), Corey Kalk (4G, 4A), John Carpino (4G, 2A)
St. Michael’s: Michael Neville (1G, 4A), CJ Shugart (4G, 0A), Stephen Pietrobon (2G, 1A)
Rangers’ keys to victory:
- Make Adrian Ignagni uncomfortable. St. Mikes’ athletic goaltender has the talent to make any save, but like most goaltenders, is susceptible to distraction with loads of activity in his goal mouth. Get in his head, and then get in his net.
- Keep it simple over blue lines. The Buzzers love to feast on counter-attacks, and especially in their small rink, they can pounce on mistakes as well as anybody in the league. Guys like Taylor Pryce and Ryan Kinsella, however, can wreak havoc on their defencemen below the goal-line and in the trenches down low is where the Rangers have the best chance to win. Simply: chip it in, chip it out, and go win a battle.
- Forward corps defensive responsibility. The Buzzers have a number of lines that can hurt you offensively, so all of North York’s lines, regardless of their offensive role, will need to be focused on playing strong, smart team defence. Offering the Rangers’ defencemen strong puck support as they transition the puck is step one, but attention to detail must be a North York calling card for this series.
- Don’t let off the gas. This St. Mike’s team has character and even though NYR handled them throughout the regular season, this is the playoffs and a very different, very confident Buzzers’ squad.