It’s finally here.
After a long lockout that finally ended nearly two weeks ago, the National Hockey League can officially get the ball going again with 12 games on Saturday’s schedule. One of those games happens to feature two Original Six teams right here at the TD Garden – the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.
To put simply, its been awhile since both teams have taken the ice, and both left last year with bitter tastes in their mouths. The Bruins fell shockingly to the seventh seeded Washington Capitals in overtime Game 7 of the first round, while the Rangers, who defeated the Caps in seven in the next round, also suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. For those counting at home, that’s 269 days between games for the Black and Gold and 239 days for the Blueshirts.
It’s safe to say that these squads will be looking for redemption in the shortened 2013 season, but for now its all about shaking off some rust – for those who did not play overseas or in the AHL – and getting back into the swing of things.
More after the jump, including a look at the opponent, projected lines, linkage, and tweets of interest.
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Location: TD Garden
TV/Radio: NESN, NHL Network/98.5 The Sports Hub
Projected Bruins lines:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Chris Bourque-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dougie Hamilton-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Projected Rangers lines:
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Marian Gaborik-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Taylor Pyatt-Brian Boyle-Chris Kreider
Mike Rupp-Jeff Halpren-Brandon Segal
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto-Stu Bickel
Bruins to watch
Many familiar faces from the Stanley Cup team in 2011 return again for 2013, and that should be a promising sign for the Bruins this season. Assuming Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara continue to be consistent and Tyler Seguin breaks through again, the Black and Gold are well positioned for a playoff run.
But, while the veteran presences are still there, a couple of newcomers will be looking to make their marks in the season opener. Chris Bourque fared well during Training Camp and was essentially the team’s only spark in the 7-5 loss to Providence during the Black and Gold Intersquad scrimmage Tuesday night, notching a goal and two assists. Former first round pick Dougie Hamilton, who has seen his recent share of struggles from the World Junior’s and Tuesday’s exhibition, will make his long-awaited debut Saturday and hopes to prove that the hype is well worth it in The Hub of Hockey.
Another guy who struggled Tuesday night, Tuukka Rask, will also hope to bounce back. The Finnish netminder signed a one-year deal in the off-season and hopes to solidify Boston’s goaltending situation for the long run. But if his performance in the scrimmage is any indication – where he allowed most of his goals from the short-side post – then you could be hearing rumblings of Anton Khudobin getting more playing time.
Rangers to watch
After landing one of the biggest prizes in the off-season, former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash makes his debut as a member of the Blueshirts. Despite all the personal success in 674 career games with Columbus (289 goals, 258 assists, 547 points), the former No. 1 overall pick only led his former team to one playoff appearance in 2009 and has rarely been seen in the national spotlight. That will change Saturday with the game being aired on the NHL Network, but there are still questions on whether or not Nash is ready for primetime.
Former Boston College forward Chris Kreider will look to capitalize on his momentum from last year’s playoffs. Despite some struggles in Hartford, Ranger fans have high hopes for their former first round pick in his first professional season.
The first bold prediction of the season comes from CSNNE Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty, who thinks the B’s will win the Cup for the second time in three years.
Joe Meloni of Stanley Cup of Chowdah says the Bruins need more out of Milan Lucic in 2012-13.
Blue Seats Blogs has their preview of Saturday’s opener.
Blueshirt Banter blogs about Carl Hagelin’s rise to the Rangers’ first line.
The SNYRangers blog wonders which Marian Gaborik will show up in 2013.
Tweets of interest
From Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston (@ESPNJoeyMac), a look at the free t-shirts courtesy of the Boston Bruins.
The free T-shirts are ready to go. twitter.com/ESPNJoeyMac/st…
— Joe McDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac) January 19, 2013
And Fischler Report Editor-in-Chief Allyson Gronowitz (@AllysonGrono) is quite speechless after seeing this video for the start of the NHL season.
— Allyson Gronowitz (@AllysonGrono) January 18, 2013
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @BruinsDaily for updates throughout Saturday’s opener. You can also follow my personal account @_TimRosenthal where I’ll be tweeting reviews of the food in the press box, while also providing some occasional in-game commentary.