Bruins-Rangers preview: Last dance

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Bruins-Rangers preview: Last dance

BOSTON -- The Bruins will see an entirely different New York Rangers team on Tuesday night.

The Bruins handled the Rangers at TD Garden in their season-opener and then pushed the Rangers to overtime before eventually falling in the first game that John Tortorella put Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards together as a super forward line. But there was a nagging feeling that the Bs hadnt seen the best that the Blueshirts had to offer as so many of their players looked rusty coming out of the lockout.

Now the Bruins feel like theyll get New York's best effort, and thats quite a bit from a talented crew that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

We realize that when we last saw the Rangers it was earlier in the season and now were a quarter of the way through the season, said Daniel Paille. It seems like theyre finding their game. Theyve played well in the last few games that Ive watched, and things are going to be a lot harder in this game than they were the last time we saw them.

Henrik Lundqvist looks like hes back on his goaltending game, and the Rangers have won three of their last four games while outscoring their opponents by a 14-7 margin during those four contests.

The Rangers have finally found some opportunistic scoring and solid play from some newly-formed bottom six lines after the departures of guys like Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedetenko. Part of that discovery was in the benching of Brian Boyle, who drew plenty of ire from Tortorella to begin this season after failing to fill in for some of the players that had exited New York.

Boston has built themselves a great cushion after their first 10 games, but there seems to be a strong resolve to refuse letting up in a shortened NHL schedule.

There are certain teams in our conference that really test your character, said Claude Julien. Both teams are pretty big teams, both teams like to work along the walls and both teams like the gritty game. Its about competing hard.

It certainly makes you a better team at the end of the night if youre ready to take that challenge the proper way.

Amazingly this will be the last time the Bruins and Rangers face each other in the regular season, but theres still a very nagging suspicion that Bostons road through the playoffs will wind through Madison Square Garden at some point.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Dougie Hamilton is scoreless in his last five games with a minus-2 rating and it was the 19-year-old rookies miscues in the defensive zone that led to Buffalos only goal on Sunday night. Hamilton has still been solid and largely mistake-free while averaging close to 19 minutes of ice time per game, but theres been a definite lull to his game over the last few weeks. Its to be expected, but Hamilton could use a nice, little breakout performance on the power play or in the offensive zone.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Were going to have to play strong against them. Theyre going to be a big, physical team that plays well defensively and theyre hard to score against. As long as we stay strong and compete to stay physical it should be a good game for us. Daniel Paille on what it will take to win the season series against the Rangers in their third meeting of the season.

KEY MATCHUP: It appears that the Bruins are going to place Tyler Seguin back with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the second line, and that will be the line the New York Rangers will be most concerned with based on Marchands team-leading six goals this season. That means Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh will get plenty of duty against the Bruins forward line, and could open up the Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton trio for a big game after being reunited once again. One thing the Bruins need to be wary of is the increased scoring the Rangers are getting from their bottom two forward lines now that theyve begun to gel.

STAT TO WATCH: 4 That's the number of goals surrendered in the third period by the Bruins in 10 games this season, and all four of those came in their only regulation loss to the Sabres.

INJURIES: New York defensemen Michael Sauer hasn't played since December 2011 for the Rangers due to a concussion,

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask is well-rested after playing in a game last Wednesday night against the Canadiens, and coming off one of his best games of the season when he shut out Montreal early while the Bruins were getting outplayed. Rask is 1-0-1 with a 2.51 goals against average and a .907 save percentage against the Blueshirts this season. After a slow start to the season when he didnt look ready to play, Lundqvist has allowed just one goal in his last two games while heating up at the same time as the Rangers skaters around him. King Henrik is close to respectability again with a 2.44 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 

 

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.