Bruins-Rangers preview: Night for fighting

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Bruins-Rangers preview: Night for fighting

The first reaction would be to say that revenge is on the menu for the Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Theyll get a chance to bump off a Bruins team that sent them into a two-game slide to start the season by thrashing them on the TD Garden ice during NHL opening night. But this is about self-respect and pride for the Rangers more than its about anything else. The Blueshirts led by the struggling trio of Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik will look to right the ship after a rough 0-2 start.

"It's not an individual thing," said Rangers coach John Tortorella. "As a group, we didn't have the fight level the past two games."

So the Bruins should be looking for that fight level to rise in a game nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network as one of their Wednesday Rivalry games. Mike Rupp had his face busted up in a tilt with Shawn Thornton last weekend, and theres little doubt hell come calling along with Arron Asham and other tough-minded Blueshirts players looking to show some fight.

But this will be more about playing a quality Eastern Conference team thats been off their game, and about the Bruins matching the Rags hunger and intensity after getting off to the best start Boston has had since 2001-02 when they jumped out to a 3-0 record. The defense and the goaltending has been stellar for the Bruins as one would expect for a Claude Julien-coached team, but the offense is still looking to get untracked both five-on-five and on a power play thats gone 0-for-9 on the season in two games.

Anybody who knows the Rangers and knows how they operate also knows theyre going to come out with their best game so far, Julien said when asked what to expect on Wednesday night. Desperation can do a lot of good things for people and teams. Weve been there before. I dont think its going to be an easy task, but were certainly going to be ready for it.

The puck drops at 7:30 pm and it should have the same kind of playoff-style atmosphere and quality as their first meeting of the season.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: The entire New York Rangers roster could use a Roberto Luongo-sized tire-pumping at this point after struggling out of the gate in their first two games. Henrik Lundqvist has been abysmal between the pipes, Ryan Callahan and Marc Staal are tied with a team-worst minus-3 rating through the first couple of games and Marian Gaborik has been shut out offensively while averaging nearly 18 minutes a game. John Tortorella told his team that this early stretch was going to test their mental fortitude and everybody will see that firsthand in a nationally televised game on NBC Sports Network.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: "The battle level and the plays are right up there to midseason (level). So you know, every game is going to be hard it's going to be tough battles and we need to be ready for everyone." Patrice Bergeron on Bostons mentality for each of the 48 battles theyll wage this season.

KEY MATCHUP: The Bruins power play has gone 0-for-9 in the first two games while showing improved puck movement and creativity with different personnel, and the Rangers PK is coming off two PP goals allowed in a 6-3 loss to the Penguins. Granted the Bs dont have the Pittsburgh personnel on the man advantage, but their top unit of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci is noting to sneeze at. Something has got to give in this matchup of strengths and weakness, though many NHL power plays have looked out of sorts early in this unique 48-game season.

STAT TO WATCH: 31 That's the combined number of registered hits for Milan Lucic (14), Zdeno Chara (10) and Adam McQuaid (7) through the first two games of the season for Boston. Lucic is third in the NHL behind Minnesotas Cal Clutterbuck and Montreals Alexei Emelin.

INJURIES: Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is expected to miss the season and be placed on long term injured reserve. Dennis Seidenberg (lower body injury) missed Mondays game against Winnipeg and Brad Marchand was held out of practice on Tuesday. Both Marchand and Seidenberg have been deemed game-time decisions by Claude Julien.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: The 0.96 goals against average and .958 save percentage for Tuukka Rask have him off to exactly the kind of start he wanted to have in a personally pivotal season. He was the first goalie off for the Bruins at their optional Wednesday morning skate at Madison Square Garden and will get his third straight start in three games. For the Rangers, King Henrik Lundqvist is coming off being pulled from a game for the first time in 15 months, and is off to the most abysmal start of his All-Star career. The 4.75 GAA and .865 save percentage for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner reek of a goaltender that wasnt ready to start the season.

Blackhawks edge past Bruins with late goal in 1-0 win

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Blackhawks edge past Bruins with late goal in 1-0 win

BOSTON -- Anybody looking for an emotional, high-energy response from the Bruins after back-to-back putrid losses to the Islanders and Red Wings didn’t get it on Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden.

Instead the Bruins had plenty of shots with zero goals to show for it, and then gave up a goal to Marian Hossa on a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 regulation win over the Black and Gold. It was the third straight loss for a Bruins team that continues to sink down in the playoff picture at a time of years when the results are the only thing that matters.

The defeat could also very well cost B’s head coach Claude Julien his job as a lifeless Bruins organization looks for any way to get out of the mud they’ve been stuck in for the last six weeks.

The Bruins and Blackhawks couldn’t crack the scoreboard for the first 50 minutes in regulation, and the genuine scoring chances were few and far between for both sides.

Tim Schaller and Patrice Bergeron had scoring chances down low in the first period, and Joe Morrow had a breakaway turned away by Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling early in the proceedings. But the scoring chances and sustained attack really began to dry up in the second period, and it became a series of one-and-done shots on net for both sides.

As one would expect both goalies were stellar with Darling putting together a 16-save performance in the first period, and Tuukka Rask turning away several Blackhawks chances including an Artem Anisimov wrist shot off the rush with just a couple of minutes to go in the third period. Rask finished with 21 saves, and Darling finished with 30 saves in a big win for the Chicago backup netminder. 

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly sounded like there were some things that made the Wednesday night loss in Detroit a little different for the Bruins.

The Bruins media corps conducted postgame interviews in the hallway rather than in the visiting dressing room after what must have been a combustible atmosphere immediately following the shootout defeat. 

There was also evidence of anger in the visitor’s dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, according to reports, with a door off its hinges when the media was able to get a look inside the dressing room area.

David Backes confirmed something was different about the loss after blowing a pair of three-goal leads, and failing to follow up their dreadful no-show vs. the Islanders with a winning performance against another bad team in Detroit. The B’s forward said the plane ride home from Detroit was solemn and quiet, and that it was clear the Bruins team was “wounded” after a crushing loss.

“Both [losses] can be great lessons if we learn from it, and neither was very enjoyable. That was probably the quietest I think our guys were all year on that plane ride home from Detroit,” said Backes. “To me, that’s a great sign that it hit us in the heart, and it hit us where it really mattered. We’re thinking about how we can turn the tide and thinking about we can be victorious the next time out.

“We had the lead, and in a lot of instances you’re expecting, as you should, to come out of there with two points. We’re at the time in the season where wins need to be garnered and taken home.

“There were a lot of aspects where we should have grabbed the game back. When you feel like you’ve had a lot of opportunities to take the game and you don’t do it, it’s not a good feeling. I was reflecting on that during a very quiet team plane ride back from Detroit, and it seemed pretty clear that the whole team was feeling wounded. I think it’s a good sign that guys were feeling that way, and that means they’re going to do everything in their power to not have that feeling again.”

The words are encouraging from a 32-year-old natural leader in Backes, who has seen good times and bad as captain of the St. Louis Blues in his 10-year NHL career. But the proof is ultimately on the ice where the Bruins have games against the Blackhawks and Penguins coming up and face some very stiff tests coming off a couple of losses against the worst teams in the East that exposed Black and Gold fragility at this point in the season.