Rangers @ Bruins
TD Garden, 1:00 p.m., Saturday
Rangers record: 40-30-5
Bruins record: 41-22-10
The Rangers will start off their four-game Eastern Conference road trip tomorrow afternoon against the Boston Bruins in what could very well end up being a playoff matchup preview. While the Rangers are coming off an unimpressive shootout loss, the Bruins are wiping their hands of a dominant, 7-0 thrashing of their perennial rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. It will certainly be interesting to see how both the Rangers and the Bruins play on Saturday following the teams’ respective Thursday night performances.
Rangers’ hockey has been painful to watch this week, and although the Rangers managed to gain three points in the standings over the past two games, the team only managed to score two goals in the process. Henrik Lundqvist showed time and again why he’s the both ‘the King’ and the Rangers’ most valuable player. Lundqvist made many key saves to keep the Blueshirts in these past two games, and after Ryan Shannon’s second period tally, only Senators’ defenseman (and fellow Swede) Erik Karlsson managed to get past Lundqvist in the shootout last night to give his team the victory over New York.
If Lundqvist starts in net tomorrow (which is to be expected) it will mark his career high 20th consecutive start. ‘The King,’ who leads the NHL in shutouts, will face off against Boston’s Tim Thomas, who leads the league in almost everything else. Rangers-Bruins matchups have always been about the goaltending, and tomorrow will be no different. The first two games of this season series both ended in a close 3-2 decision, with the Rangers coming out on top in the first game and the Bruins coming away with the two points in the second.
Tim Thomas earned his 8th shutout of the season following his team’s 7-0 rout off the Canadiens last night. The Bruins, with a plus-48 goal differential, have an intimidating offensive squad to go with their superb goaltending. In last night’s game alone, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, and David Krejci each earned three assists, and Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell scored twice. Although a far cry from Boston’s numbers, the Rangers come into tomorrow’s game with an impressive plus-36 goal differential, which is good for third in the league.
The big question on the Rangers’ end for tomorrow’s game is: Which forward will sit this time? Mats Zuccarello, Wojtek Wolski, and Erik Christensen all saw limited ice time (or none at all) in the third period of last night’s game against Ottawa, and all three regular shootout artists failed to score in the skills competition following overtime. The spark that Sean Avery provides was exactly what the Blueshirts needed last night, and chances are he will find himself off the bench and back in the lineup in a huge game against Boston tomorrow afternoon.