Bruins - Rangers preview: Showing up for the showdown

Bruins - Rangers preview: Showing up for the showdown
November 29, 2013, 9:45 am
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It seems like every single game between the Bruins and the Rangers ends up a tight one-goal decision.

The last tilt between the two Original Six clubs was no different as Tuukka Rask made a season-high 43 saves while stealing one from the Rangers in a 2-1 win for Boston, and one can only expect to once again see the same kind of scenario before a national NBC audience for the Thanksgiving Showdown at TD Garden on Friday afternoon. The Bruins will have a little extra motivation after getting thumped by a 6-1 score at the hands of the Red Wings on Wednesday night, and holding a 10-minute closed door meeting following Thanksgiving morning practice.

One would expect to see a more prideful effort from the Black and Gold on Friday afternoon in a big game.

“When we play that East-West, crisscross game, things like [the Wings loss] happen,” admitted Milan Lucic. “Obviously we want to acknowledge it, and say that it was a bad loss . . . say it was a bad game. We want to use it as motivation to come out harder in the next game, because that’s not our team.

“We know we’re better than that, and we have pride and character in this dressing room. So we want to do whatever we can to go out and have a big effort [on Friday vs. the New York Rangers].”

Players like Lucic and Patrice Bergeron have struggled for the Bruins over the last few weeks, and the Rangers have picked up their game for new coach Alain Vigneault after an early stumble out of the gate. So it clearly might be time for some of the B’s big dogs to come out hungry for offense in one of the league’s showpiece games for the season.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Zero points in the last six games for Patrice Bergeron, who is also a minus-1 over that period while really failing to factor in offensively for the Black and Gold. It’s been a strange year for No. 37 with Brad Marchand struggling on one side of him, and Loui Eriksson taking some time to get fully involved in the B’s offense on the other side of him. Right now Bergeron is on pace for 20 goals and 36 points this season, and those numbers are more than a little skimpy for a player that’s still getting it done in the face-off circle and in the defensive end.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “It’s really important. They were coming and they played well. We obviously left Tuukka out to dry long parts of that game. So we need to make sure we bounce back tomorrow, and have a good game.” –Patrice Bergeron, on the mindset entering Friday afternoon’s tilt with the Blueshirts.  

KEY MATCHUP: At this point, Tuukka Rask is very much in the collective kitchens of the New York Rangers offensive players. He allowed just 10 goals in five playoff games in the second round postseason matchup last spring, and he made 43 saves as the Rangers outshot the B’s by a 44-22 margin in a 2-1 victory for Boston at Madison Square Garden earlier this month. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the frustration to creep in for Brad Richards and Rick Nash, among others, if Rask is again on his game Friday afternoon at home. He’s 4-3-3 with a 1.98 goals against average and .935 save percentage in 10 games vs. the Blueshirts.

STAT TO WATCH: 11 – the number of goals that Tuukka Rask has allowed to the New York Rangers in the last six games he’s faced them, including the playoffs.   

INJURIES: Rangers forward Derek Dorsett missed the game against the Panthers with a sore wrist.

The Bruins are still without defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (lower body), who was called a “possibility” for Friday afternoon after being injured early in the game at New York earlier this month.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask has now played 21 out of the 25 games for the Boston Bruins, and had one of his lesser outings while allowing a season-high six goals to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. That one down performance has nearly dropped Rask out of the top five NHL goaltenders with his 1.89 goals against average and .936 save percentage, and it’s expected the proud Finnish netminder will respond in a big way after stealing the first B’s/Blueshirts match with 43 saves.

King Henrik Lundqvist should be getting the start for the New York Rangers, and is 8-10-0 with a 2.48 goals against average and .918 save percentage during a season that’s been just “okay” by his lofty standards. He was outplayed by Rask at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins should expect to see his best in a national Thanksgiving Showdown game on the NBC Network.