By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins’ 2018-19 regular season is just about over and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are around the corner, but the eyes need to stay in the present as the Bruins can still lose home-ice advantage against the Maple Leafs for the opening round of the post-season. The Bruins are reeling after a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, but still have a five-point lead on Toronto for second in the Atlantic.
The New York Rangers are twelfth in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 29-33-13. The Rangers are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this season, marking the second consecutive season they will miss the post-season after clinching the previous seven seasons. The Rangers are 2-6-2 in their last ten games with a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins being their most recent game on March 25th.
BOS: Jaroslav Halak 20-10-4 2.31 GAA .924 SV% Last Game: 31 Saves in 7-3 win vs FLA
NYR: Henrik Lundqvist (Likely) 18-20-10 2.99 GAA .909 SV% Last Game: 27 Saves in 3-2 loss to DET
Brad Marchand is closing out his best season of his NHL career to date the way he has been all season, on fire. Marchand has seven points in just his last three games for the Bruins, including a two-goal performance in the loss to Tampa Bay. The recent success brings Marchand’s season totals to 34 goals, 60 assists for 94 points. With six games left to go, Marchand needs to average a point-per-game to reach the 100-point plateau and it is very well reachable.
Kevin Shattenkirk was brought onto the Rangers a few seasons ago to strengthen their back-end and to make a push for a long post-season. Well in 2018-19 the Rangers are not a playoff team, but Shattenkirk is still having a decent season. The 30-year-old defenceman has twenty-seven points on the year, three of which coming in the last four games.
David Backes has been struggling for the Bruins for the good majority of the season, but on this final push to the post-season, the 34-year-old forward has been doing quite well. Backes has 1-2-3 numbers in the last three games and has been one of the hardest working forwards on the bottom-six. I personally have been impressed with his play and I truly hope he can continue that heading into the first round.
Jimmy Vesey was once a highly-touted forward that many teams wanted their hands on. However, in August of 2016 he signed with the New York Rangers. In 2018-19, Vesey has 16-18-34 numbers in 76 games but more recently, is on a terrible 12-game pointless streak and boasts a -5 rating in the last five games combined.
Not many Bruins are struggling or having poor performances as of late, but the entire team fell off in the final period against the Lightning. Almost every player on the ice made some error that led to Tampa erasing Boston’s two-goal lead to win the game in regulation time. The Bruins looked unenthusiastic and absolutely drained. If there is one thing to work on from that game heading into tonight’s, it is playing a full 60-minute hockey game.
Chris Kreider has been one of those players that teams are well aware of when you play the New York Rangers but like everyone in New York this season, he is struggling to play at a high level. The Boxford, Massachusetts native has 26-23-49 totals in 73 games played and has not found his name on the score-sheet in five straight. On March 13th, Kreider had 15 penalty minutes and against a dangerous Bruins power-play, he cannot do the same tonight.
- F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (25) from passing Rick Middleton (25) for sole possession of most SHG in Bruins history
New York Rangers:
- F Pavel Buchnevich is four points away (96) from 100 career NHL points
Bruins vs Rangers Outlook
The New York Rangers are one of only six teams in the NHL that Boston currently has a below-.500 point percentage against. The two Original Six teams have played twice before this season, both times going to the team from the Big Apple. On January 19th, the Rangers won 3-2 in regulation and won again a month later on February 6th in a 4-3 shootout. In that game last month, the two teams had a 3-on-3 overtime session that you just had to see.
Once again heading into tonight’s game, the specialty teams of the Bruins will most likely play a large role in the outcome. The Bruins have the third-best power-play at just over a 26 percent success rate, scoring 61 goals on the man-advantage this year. The Bruins penalty-kill has been solid as well. In the third against Tampa Bay, the B’s killed off a four-minute penalty brilliantly and was quite impressive. It is sitting at 81.5%, 10th-best in the league.
The Rangers aren’t as good, clearly. They have the 17th-best power-play, scoring 41 goals at just over 19% accuracy. On the penalty-kill, New York is the sixth-worst while short-handed, killing off only 78% of their league-high 10.1 penalty minutes-per-game.
Puck drop from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts is scheduled for 7pm EST. Below were the line rushes from morning practice for your Boston Bruins.
Forward Marcus Johansson and defenceman Torey Krug are likely to return to the lineup for the Bruins, some big pieces to get back for this contest. John Moore, injured in the last game against the Lightning, is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while D Matt Grzelcyk and D Kevan Miller are “probable for the weekend” according to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy.