Bruins readying for big Rangers challenge

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Bruins readying for big Rangers challenge

WILMINGTON, MA The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers should be looking to make an Eastern Conference statement right off the bat on Saturday night as they open the 48-game NHL regular season at TD Garden.

The Rangers have traditionally had Bostons number over the years, and Henrik Lundqvist is one of the Black and Golds longtime tormentors, so motivation and adrenaline shouldnt be a problem for the Bruins.

Its up to us to go out there and perform. Weve talked a lot about that and getting back our good habits, and we need to get that started off on the right foot against the Rangers, said Milan Lucic. They finished first in the Eastern Conference last year and theyre a team thats made a lot of strides in the last three or four years to become one of the elite teams in the NHL. I think its a good way to start because these are the ones that are easy to get up for. Youve just got to embrace the challenge and embrace the struggle and enjoy it.

It could be wildly unpredictable given the different conditioning levels players will be coming from and new additions to each teams lineup that may need some orientation time before theyre at maximum power. For the Bruins a rookie defenseman like Dougie Hamilton will be playing in the NHL for the first time, and will be paired with Dennis Seidenberg in a role that could be significant.

For the Rangers prototypical All-Star power forward Rick Nash is inserted into the Blueshirts lineup, and hell have to find a way to coexist with players like Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards in a long-established chemistry formed under head coach John Tortorella.

With 17 of the last 21 games between the Bruins and Rangers getting decided by one goal, it could be one simple mistake that means the difference between winning and losing in this one. That means Lundqvist and Bs goaltender Tuukka Rask will need to be on point, and the Bruins need to be much better than they were in a Sloppy Joe Special effort in Tuesday nights scrimmage at TD Garden.

Getting off to a good start will be key.

As you well know a lot of teams got off to good starts last season, but through an 82-game schedule they couldnt sustain it, said Claude Julien. "But in a 48-game schedule they will be able to sustain it, so we cant afford slow starts and we cant afford slumps.

With two games against the Rangers within their first three of the 48-game regular season, the challenge is clearly there for the Bruins to get off to a good start.

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

BOSTON – The Bruins are undefeated this season when they manage to cobble together three goals in a game. 

It took a little extra as David Pastrnak knifed through former BC defenseman Mike Matheson in overtime for his second goal of the game, and his 15th of the season, to take a 4-3 win over the Panthers at TD Garden. 

It was thought the final offensive push they needed took place in the third period when Ryan Spooner hopped on the David Krejci line with David Backes, and fired a shot at the Boston net that Backes redirected through Roberto Luongo for his seventh of the season. 

But the Panthers tied it up on a Demers goal late in the third period, and that set up Pastrnak’s brilliant one-on-one move for the game-winner for the Black and Gold. 

The Bruins led off the scoring on a nice play by Tim Schaller winning a battle to enter the Florida zone, and then circling around behind the net before burying a one-timer from the slot as he crashed the net to connect with a David Krejci dish headed straight his way. 

The Panthers tied it a period later when the legend, Jaromir Jagr, buried a chance from the slot after his line had hemmed in the David Krejci line and Torey Krug/Adam McQuaid pairing for an extended shift in the Boston zone. It was goal No. 754 of Jagr’s brilliant NHL career as he continues to go strong for the Panthers, and it also tied the game 1-1. 

The Bruins looked like they might haven the lead for good on David Pastrnak’s 14th goal of the season, but it wasn’t mean to be. Pastrnak started it all by protecting a puck and retaining possession from his knees in the corner of the offensive zone. Eventually Patrice Bergeron fired a puck wide of the net, and Brad Marchand unleashed a spinning, no-look pass to a waiting Pastrnak for the easy score past Roberto Luongo. 

The Panthers tied it a second time in the third period when Reilly Smith stripped a puck from Patrice Bergeron going up the center of the ice, and eventually it found its way to Aleksander Barkov for a ripped shot from long distance for his fourth goal of the season. 

Then Florida tied it again in the final minutes of the third on a Jason Demers rebound bid after Mike Matheson’s shot went wide of the net and took a wild carom off the end boards in the exact opposite direction. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.