Bruins @ Rangers
Madison Square Garden, 7:00 p.m. Wednesday
Rangers record: 10-7-1
Bruins record: 9-5-1
After the New York Rangers’ past two emotionally charged games, the Garden Faithful is bound to have high expectations come Wednesday night’s matchup against the Boston Buins.
Marian Gaborik announced his return to the lineup with a hat trick in Sunday’s goal blitz, and Henrik Lundqvist reminded everyone why he’s still the King with a stupendous 37 save effort last night in the Penguins’ brand new arena. The officiating was arguable at best, but the Rangers killed off all six of the Penguins’ power plays. Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust continued to spearhead the team’s impressive penalty kill, one that has been 95.2% efficient in the past six games, allowing only one goal in this time frame. The Rangers look for a fourth straight win tomorrow night against their competitive division rival, a team which also snagged an important and exciting win last night.
While the Bruins have cooled off since hosting the Rangers at the end of October, they’re still a force to be reckoned with. The Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak against the still-slumping New Jersey Devils last night. Tim Thomas, who has been outstanding this season, turned aside all 28 Devils shots to earn his league-leading fourth shutout. Even without centers Marc Savard and David Krejci, both of whom are out with concussions, the Bruins’ offense has been on the rise. While second overall draft pick Tyler Seguin hasn’t scored a point in his last three games or a goal in his past seven, longtime Bruins Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic have been very solid offensively. Nathan Horton is doing exactly what he was brought up from Florida to do, and he currently leads the team with eight goals and fourteen points. Michael Ryder, a former thirty goal scorer, has performed very well this season, too, and he scored the Bruins’ first and eventual game winning goal in Monday night’s contest.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk may return to the Bruins’ lineup on Wednesday after missing nine games with a broken wrist sustained in the last matchup of these two teams, after a slash by Brandon Dubinsky. Stung by the loss of Boychuk, the Bruins will certainly have their eye on Dubinsky tomorrow evening; but based on Dubinsky’s play this season and his stunning performance in the 3-2 overtime win against the Penguins, they will certainly need to keep Dubinsky in mind for other reasons as well.
As usual, the Bruins and the Rangers match up pretty evenly. In the standings, both teams sit in second in their respective divisions. Offensively, both teams are averaging around three goals per game, and both teams are fresh off exciting (and bloody) wins on Monday night. In the past, Bruins-Rangers matchups have generally been low-scoring but tantalizing, with a one or two goal differential sealing the deal for the winning team. With two hot goalies in net tomorrow—Tim Thomas, with a league-high .960 save percentage, and Henrik Lundqvist, coming off a thrilling performance in Pittsburgh—the game is destined to be the competitive nail-biter we’ve come to expect from these two teams.
The donning of the Ranger’s third jerseys—dubbed the “Heritage” jersey—will add extra significance to the upcoming game. Win or lose, the (navy-tinted) Blueshirts’ overall play and spirit as of late has been admirable, and we can expect this team to wear their new jerseys with pride.