( Photo Credit: Richard T Gagnon / Getty Images )

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

Recently, NBCSports writer Nick Goss released an article stating that the Hurricanes are the Bruins’ biggest competitor in the Eastern Conference. While I certainly respect that opinion, and it could end up being true, I think another team in the conference poses a more significant threat to the Bruins’ chances of winning the Prince of Wales trophy this season than the Hurricanes.

Of course, the Hurricanes seem like the team most likely to challenge the Bruins for the title right now. They are first in the Metropolitan, they have a great forward core, talented defensemen, and a solid goalie in Frederik Andersen. As good as they are though, I think the New York Rangers have the greatest potential to cause the Bruins trouble, especially because we likely will not see that matchup until the conference final.

Now, I know that may seem weird to say considering I also just linked a highlights video of the Bruins easily handling the Rangers. Remember that the Rangers had just recently gotten Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, and they were also missing two of their top defensemen. Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller did not play for the Rangers that afternoon, making a huge difference for New York.

By the time the Rangers and Bruins match up again, it will be nearly June. That means the Rangers will have had almost three months to figure out their chemistry and lines. I think it’s fair to say they will probably be operating a bit more smoothly than they were in that Saturday matinee against the Bruins.

The lack of chemistry was especially apparent on the Rangers’ power plays in that game. Despite having one of the most talented power-play units in the league available, the Rangers’ power-play struggled to put together much of anything and allowed a shorthanded goal to Tomas Nosek. A power play that cannot even find a spot for Vladamir Tarasenko should at least look threatening every time they see the ice, and that was certainly not the case for the Rangers.

Even if the Rangers do not have their “A” game by the conference finals (which I doubt will be the case), they still have the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Igor Shesterkin between the pipes as their last line of defense. We have seen teams ride a hot goaltender to the Cup Finals before, and Shesterkin can undoubtedly get to that level.

By the end of May, I expect the Rangers to have a lineup of guys like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, Kane, Tarasenko, Miller, and Lindgren all playing in front of Shesterkin, and I expect them to have figured out their chemistry much more than what we have seen. That team can play with anyone and match up well against the Bruins.

How do the Bruins beat a team like that? Well, it starts by forechecking relentlessly like Jim Montgomery has been preaching all season. Guys like Panarin and Kane thrive off of having time. If the Bruins can take away the Rangers’ time and space, they will create turnovers and odd-man rushes. After that, it is all about making Shesterkin move side to side. Even if it does not result in an open net, making him move will open up holes that guys like David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand can exploit. Will the Rangers be tough to beat? Yes, they will. It would be a really fun series to watch though!