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Rangers looking to come out strong against the Bruins; Lundqvist unavailable

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Bruins 1-15

The Rangers and the Bruins will face off for the second time this season, with New York looking to close out a four game homestand on a high note. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After stumbling out of the gates following the All Star break, the Rangers (29-15-4) have won their last two games, and aim to continue their winning ways when they take on the Boston Bruins (27-16-7) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

The last time that these two teams faced off, The Bruins walked away with a win, controlling most of the game in a 3-0 shutout victory. Cam Talbot was in net for the Rangers, picking up a loss in a 29 save effort.

Since then, the Bruins have remained red hot, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, and have established themselves as one of the stronger Eastern Conference teams. In their last game, they toppled the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, picking up their second consecutive win.

Milan Lucic did not travel to New York on Tuesday (Flu) but is expected to be ready for tonight’s game. Loui Eriksson (11-18-29) and Chris Kelly (6-16-22) returned to practice on Tuesday following a maintenance day. Patrice Bergeron leads the team in points with 12 goals and 21 assists on the year. Bergeron also wins 59% of his draws, a stat that could pose a problem for a New York Rangers team that has struggled in the faceoff circle this year.

Tuukka Rask is expected to make his ninth consecutive start for the Bruins after an extremely strong January. Rask was the backbone of the Bruins during their surge in play, finishing with a 7-3-1 record in 11 appearances with a 1.64 GAA and a .949 save percentage. Rask registered a shutout in his last game against the Rangers on January 15th, stopping all 29 shots he faced.

The Rangers offense has been much better the last the last two games, scoring 10 goals after finding the back of the net just once in their first two games after the All Star break. They also scored on the power play against Florida, and has scored on the power play in nine of their last 17 games (13-49, 26.5%). However, they have scored just three times in their last 26 opportunities on the man advantage.

hayes and zuccarello 2-2

The Rangers have been celebrating goals a lot more often in the past two games, finding the back of the net 10 times in the last six periods. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Alain Vigneault said this afternoon that Henrik Lundqvist will not be available tonight, meaning Cam Talbot will make his 10th start of the season. Coincidentally, Talbot’s last start came against the Bruins on January 15th, making 29 saves in a loss. Talbot has a 4-4-1 record alongside a 2.15 GAA and .926 save percentage.

It is not known why Henrik Lundqvist is unavailable, but he will not be on the bench for the team tonight. As a result, the Rangers have recalled Mackenzie Skapski from the Hartford Wolf Pack, and he will dress for the Rangers tonight. Skapski is 12-7-3 for Hartford with a 2.38 GAA and a .914 save percentage.

Lundqvist did not practice yesterday and was given a maintenance day, so being unavailable is a bit concerning. Vigneault said that he has an “upper body injury that [the team] is investigating,” and that more information will released today.

cam talbot 11-3

With Henrik Lundqvist out with an undisclosed upper body injury, Cam Talbot will make his 10th start of the season, and his first since January 15th. Mackenzie Skapski will serve as backup. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Rick Nash remains the Rangers best player, scoring twice on Monday to bring his goal total to 31, tied with Alexander Ovechkin for first in the NHL. Nash leads the NHL in even strength goals (23) and is tied for first in the NHL with four shorthanded goals. He has also scored in 24 different games this season, also tops in the league. Nash will be a huge factor for the Rangers every night, and will be a threat on the ice against the Bruins.

With an assist against the Panthers, Derick Brasssard has quietly been playing very well for the Blueshirts. Brassard has tallied 19 points (6-13-19) in his last 24 games. Brassard is second on the team in assists (24) and tied for second in points (36). He also leads the team with 14 power play points, and will certainly be a factor again tonight. With just one point in his past five games, Brassard is due for a big night.

derick brassard 1-29

Derick Brassard has been a very steady player for the Rangers, tallying points on a relatively consistent basis. Brassard is tied for second on the team in points with 36 so far this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The power play unit that scored for the Rangers against the Panthers consisted of Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider with Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi manning the points. Hayes was the one who got the goal, and that group of five was much more effective throughout the night.

Although the Rangers have won the last two games, their defense has not been as strong as it was at the start of the streak. Team captain Ryan McDonagh discussed this, saying that the team has been “giving up a lot more chances than we would like to for sure, some pretty bad turnovers and a lot of breakdowns.”

This has been apparent early on in games, when the Rangers “have looked like the slower team.” McDonagh believes they need to simplify the game, register a big hit, and get involved in some way.

Vigneault feels the same way, saying the poor play has been an anomaly, something that will occur over the course of an 82 game season. He addressed this in practice, saying afterwards that, “I’m sure we’re going to be good tomorrow.”

ryan mcdonagh 1-31

The Rangers captain addressed the teams poor defensive play lately, McDonagh and the rest of the team knows that they need to play better, so expect that issue to be addressed tonight. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

After winning 13 of 14 games, including a 3-0-0 California trip, Lundqvist proclaimed that, “We believe we can beat anybody.” Tonight presents an opportunity for the Rangers to prove that again against a tough Bruins team.

No lineups have been confirmed, but JT Miller and Matt Hunwick are expected to be the healthy scratches.

The Rangers and the Boston Bruins will face off tonight at 7 PM at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Network.

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Rick Nash-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis

Chris Kreider-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

John Moore-Dan Boyle

Cam Talbot

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Posted on February 4, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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