Bruins Game 54 Preview: New York Rangers

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photo credit: John Tlumacki/Boston Globe Staff

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

The Boston Bruins are coming into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden riding a two-game win streak that came after a rough stretch. The Bruins are 4-3-3 in their last ten games and have beaten both of the Metropolitan Division’s top two teams, the Islanders and Capitals, this week. The Rangers are 5-4-1 in their last ten outings, including a 3-2 win over the Bruins in Boston.

The Bruins are occupying the first Wild Card spot, as they are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, which I have referred to as both the Adams Division and the Northeast Division today. Their record is currently 29-17-7, and they’ve accumulated 65 points on the season. The Rangers are 22-22-8 with 52 points and are nine points out of the playoff picture at the moment. If the Blueshirts want to make the playoffs, they will have to leapfrog Philadelphia, Carolina, and Buffalo in the standings.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak | 13-9-3 record; .918 Save Percentage, 2.49 Goals Against Average | Last game: 24 saves in 4-3 OTL against WPG on January 29

NYR: Alexandar Georgiev | 14-6-9 record; .897 Save Percentage; 3.28 Goals Against Average | Last game: 18 saves in a 1-0 loss against PHI on January 29

Who’s Hot

The Bruins’ top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak are performing, as usual. Bergeron is coming off a two-goal performance (one was on an empty net, thanks to Pasta) in his 1000th NHL game. He has also scored two goals and notched four assists for six points in his last six games. David Pastrnak has scored three goals and assisted on six for nine points in his last five games. Left Wing Brad Marchand has scored one goal and assisted on six for seven points in his last five outings.

For the Rangers, Mika Zibanejad has tallied six goals and got the helper on four, for a total of ten points in his last five games. He became the first Rangers player in franchise history to register a point on nine consecutive team goals, surpassing the long-standing record set by Rod Gilbert (2-6—8 in 1967-68). The guy is absolutely on fire right now – it’s almost like he plays on Patrice Bergeron’s line.

Who’s Not

The Bruins’ secondary scoring has been experiencing a serious drought of late. Apart from the Bergeron line, there has been very little offensive production from anyone in the lineup recently. Peter Cehlarik lit the lamp against the Islanders last night, but goals from players other than Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak have been few and far between.

Another struggling Bruin is Jaroslav Halak, who is 1-3-1 in his last five games. In that stretch, the Bruins have allowed 117 shots, and 16 of them have found the twine, which is a save percentage of .863 — not good. Halak, however, is historically good against the Rangers, with a record 18-8-0 to show for it. His career save percentage is .928, and his goals-against-average is 2.40, so there is hope that Halak can shake off the cobwebs and give us a better show between the pipes tonight.

For New York, Bulgarian backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev has had a rough go this season, and while he’s fared a bit better than Halak recently, he’s still not playing well. In his last five outings, Georgiev has allowed 12 goals on 122 shots, good for a save percentage of .902.

Projected Lines:

Boston Bruins:

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk — David Krejci — Peter Cehlarik

Joakim Nordstrom — Trent Frederic — Danton Heinen

Sean Kuraly — Noel Acciari — Chris Wagner

Torey Krug — Kevan Miller

Zdeno Chara — Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk — Charlie McAvoy

Jaroslav Halak

Tuukka Rask

Scratched: John Moore, Steve Kampfer, David Backes

Injured: none

New York Rangers:

Chris Kreider — Mika Zibanejad — Mats Zuccarello

Pavel Buchnevich — Kevin Hayes — Jesper Fast

Filip Chytil — Ryan Strome — Vladislav Namestnikov

Vinni Letteri — Boo Nieves — Jimmy Vesey

Marc Staal — Tony DeAngelo

Brady Skjei — Adam McQuaid

Brendan Smith — Kevin Shattenkirk

Alexandar Georgiev

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Neal Pionk

Injured: Brett Howden (MCL), Fredrik Claesson (shoulder)

 

Milestone Watch

Boston Bruins:

  • D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career NHL goals, making him the 21st defenseman to hit that mark in NHL history
  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most SHG in Bruins history
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away from taking sole possession of 7th most GWG in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away from taking sole possession of 3rd most GWG in Bruins history

New York Rangers:

  • The Rangers are a fairly young team and don’t have anybody currently nearing any milestones to speak of at the moment.

Bruins vs. Rangers Outlook

The Bruins are playing in back-to-back games, one home and one away, and maybe a little worn out for tonight’s tilt. David Backes will be sitting out in favor of Danton Heinen, so the bottom six may look and feel a little bit rejuvenated in comparison to the Bruins’ last couple of games. The Rangers, meanwhile, will be rested as their last game was an overtime loss to the Kings on Monday. The Rangers know they’re in trouble in the standings and shed some dead weight in trading forward Cody McLeod today so there may be an extra spring in their step.

The Bruins and Rangers will meet a total of three times this season, with tonight’s game being the second. Their last meeting, on January 19, was a 3-2 overtime loss for the Bruins. Boston will really need to get rolling again after a couple of disappointing weeks, as no team feels comfortable in a Wild Card spot. Every point counts and the Bruins are going to come to play tonight. This is not going to be much of a clash of the Titans, however, as the Rangers’ offense is among the worst in the NHL, and pretty much every Bruin forward that isn’t on the top line has been snake bitten lately.

 

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