Although it's only February 12, tonight is the last Bruins-Rangers matchup of the year. Damn this shortened season.
Just the Facts
Game time: 7:30 PM at TD Garden. TV Broadcast: New England Sports Network (inside New England); NBC Sports Network (outside New England). Radio Broadcast: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Rival SBNation Site: Blueshirt Banter (Game preview forthcoming)
Records: Bruins (8-1-1) vs. Rangers (6-5-0)
Get tickets here: Boston Bruins Tickets
Projected Rangers Lines:
Pyatt - Richards - Gaborik
Hagelin - Stepan - Nash
Kreider - Miller - Callahan
Asham - Halpern - Powe
McDonagh - Girardi
Staal - Stralman
Del Zotto - Gilroy/Eminger
Projected Bruins Lines:
Lucic - Krejci - Seguin
Marchand - Bergeron - Horton
Bourque - Kelly - Peverley
Paille - Campbell - Thornton
Chara - Boychuk
Seidenberg - Hamilton
Ference - McQuaid
It feels like FOREVER since we've been at the TD Garden. Just short of two weeks is a really long time, ok?
Tonight is the third and final Bruins/Rangers game of the season. Boston has won one and New York has won one (in OT).
The day after the Bruins/Lightning game was cancelled, Tampa headed south to take on the Rangers, and got walloped. It was in part, as usual, thanks to the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist, but the Rangers are also really starting to click offensively - after a rough start to their season, they're now a game above .500, and have won their last two games by a collective score of 9-2.
Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin are finding chemistry together, and on a line with Rick Nash they're starting to look dangerous. Taylor Pyatt with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik doesn't actually worry me as much as Nash, Stepan and Hagelin do at the moment. (And sidenote: this is what I think of when I see that Rangers' third line. WOW.)
Fun stat - the Rangers' power play is WORSE than the Bruins! (although, if Patrice Bergeron hadn't scored that PPG against Buffalo on Sunday, this wouldn't be true.) The Rangers have converted 10% of their power plays, where Boston has converted on 10.3%. Another fun stat - the Bruins and Rangers are the only two teams remaining that have won every game where they've a) scored first, b) had the lead after the first period, and c) had the lead after the second period.
Brian Boyle's sat out the last two games, and Blueshirt Banter is predicting that he'll sit again tonight.
On the Bruins' side, although Seguin's line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic only produced an empty net goal on Sunday, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton were able to take center stage against the Sabres. One of the big things in the playoffs two years ago was that the Bruins didn't have to rely on one line to get things done. If the Flyers put more effort into stopping Bergeron's line - Krejci's line stepped up and took over, and that's sort of what's happened in the last two games. While Krejci's line was deadly against the Canadiens, Bergeron's was against the Sabres. It'll be interesting to see whose line is the big one against the Rangers.
Look for Dougie Hamilton to have a big rebound game tonight; look also for the lines to potentially return to normal against the Rangers. Line rushes in morning skate involve Seguin back with Marchand and Bergeron, and Horton with Krejci and Lucic. Wouldn't it be beneficial to keep playing the lines that work? Guess we'll see.