Game Day Preview: Rangers at Bruins
The Bruins should be thankful for the performances of Tuukka Rask and Jonas Gustavsson during their two-game road swing through Toronto and Detroit. Because of the two netminders, the Black and Gold stole four important points and jumped to third place in the Atlantic Division this Thanksgiving.
But head coach Claude Julien and company are going to need a complete effort on Friday when they welcome the red-hot Rangers. The Blueshirts are coming off a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday but are 8-2-0 in their last 10 and bring their league-leading defense to town.
The Bruins took two of three meetings against last year’s President’s Trophy winner and have also won five of their last six against the Rangers. They’ve had their number in the last couple of years, but with a few new pieces in Boston, and a veteran New York squad looking to get over the hump and win the Stanley Cup, it may be difficult for the Black and Gold to replicate their success over their Original Six foes.
Bruins vs. Rangers. Boston vs. New York. Jimmy vs. Kevin Hayes. All of this should provide an entertaining “Black Friday” on Causeway Street.
Gametime: 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBC/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 12-8-1 (25 points), Rangers 16-4-2 (34 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-Loui Eriksson
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Brett Connolly
Zac Rinaldo-Joonas Kemppainen-Landon Ferraro
Zdeno Chara-Zach Trotman
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Dennis Seidenberg-Colin Miller
Rangers projected lines
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Kevin Hayes
J.T. Miller-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast
Dominic Moore-Jarret Stoll-Emersen Etem
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Dylan McIlrath
Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein
Matchup to watch: Bruins offense vs. Rangers defense
To some surprise, the Bruins offense is near the top of the league in the first quarter of the season. Through 21 games, the B’s have scored the fourth-most goals in the league with 68 and also sport the NHL’s top power play with a success rate of 30.8 percent.
To little shock, the Rangers come into today’s game giving up the fewest goals in the league with 42. Their penalty kill comes in at third with a success rate of 85.5 percent. This will be a tough task for the Bruins offense and a power play that has been held scoreless over a season-long three straight games.
The Habs put up a five spot and chased goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Wednesday. That was a rare off night for the Swedish goaltender and company. One can be sure that the Blueshirts will tighten up defensively this afternoon.
Storyline to watch: Hayes brothers reunite
With the Hayes family reunion intact this Thanksgiving, it’s only fair to highlight Jimmy and Kevin Hayes being front and center for this matchup.
So far, Kevin has had the better of the two seasons tallying 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) with two game-winning goals in 22 games. Jimmy, who is still adjusting to a new system, has been held without a point in nine straight games. Against his brother and the rest of the Rangers, it will be a good time for the elder Hayes to break his slump and establish a little confidence before the B’s Western Canada trip.
The Hayes brothers, former Boston College standouts, could very well be matched up against each other on the ice in a matchup between the Bergeron and Stepan lines. Or Kevin could face another person who attended the Hayes Family Thanksgiving Dinner, Matt Beleskey.
Regardless, Dorchester will watch two of their own do battle right up the Southeast Expressway at the Garden on Friday afternoon.