Bruins-Rangers preview: Night for fighting


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.

Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment


Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while anxiously awaiting a Cleveland/Chicago Cubs World Series showdown with all of the Red Sox subplots that could be involved.

*A peewee hockey coach in Quebec has been given a season-long suspension for punishing his players with hundreds of push-ups.

*The NHL game has changed radically over the last 11 years as Henrik Lundqvist has been a fixture for the New York Rangers.

*A lot has changed since Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in 1990 and this article is worth it for the Jagr mullet picture alone.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says that a healthy Brandon Sutter has been a difference-maker for the Canucks.

*Carey Price is back in net for the Montreal Canadiens, and that makes the Habs a new team as they prepare for the Bruins on Saturday.

*This is what it looks like when you’ve completely given up on just about everything else except for being a hockey fan. So very gross.

*For something completely different: The Doctor Strange cast is being forced into answering some tough questions at the premiere of what is essentially a comic book movie.



Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’


Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask has been outstanding through his first three games this season after stumbling out of the gate last year. The .947 save percentage and sub 2.00 GAA are all the more impressive for Rask when also accounting for a lower body issue that’s been nagging at him since the opening night win a little more than a week ago.

Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden, but it was also clear on a couple of stops that he was feeling discomfort in his lower half as he extended into the full butterfly. 

That was confirmed by Rask following the win when he admitted he was dealing with “something” after the game, and by his absence from the practice ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday morning.

“Uh-huh. There’s always a little something-something,” said a smirking Rask, when asked if he’s playing through something physically.

Instead, Babson College goalie coach Mike Ronan was called into emergency duty, and took the practice ice along with Bruins backup netminder Anton Khudobin.

Claude Julien said following practice that Rask was dealing with the same “general soreness” that last week pushed him out of a scheduled start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s uncertain whether he will make the start against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“The general soreness he had last week is still there,” said Julien. “[The medical staff] will see tomorrow how he's doing.”

Rask also missed a Bruins practice with soreness last Friday in Toronto, and wasn’t able to play the next night in the loss to the Maple Leafs. Injuries aside, Rask has been brilliant against both New Jersey and Winnipeg and was solid over the final 40 minutes against the Blue Jackets in an opening night win to start the season.

“Tuukka was outstanding in Winnipeg and he was good again [vs. New Jersey],” said Julien. “So, there are no issues with Tuukka. I think he’s giving us the hockey and the goaltending that we are looking for.”

Well, maybe there is one slight “issue with Tuukka” if a nagging lower body issue starts keeping him out of Bruins games and practices on the regular.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings at Friday practice:









Liles-C. Miller