There are a lot of people calling this game a "must win" game. I must be missing the point of "must win" games. A "must win" game is if you're looking to get into a playoff spot or to hold an opponent back from overtaking your spot. If you look at the standings, Boston will end up in the top 3 of the Eastern Conference (barring a catastrophic meltdown or a significant injury). They're currently second place in the Eastern Conference and first overall in the Northeast Division. I don't see Ottawa (who is currently 6 points back of the Bruins) making a surge to overtake the Bruins. The Bruins also have 5 games in hand when compared to Ottawa. For those unaware of the terminology of "in hand" it means that the Bruins (53 games played) have played 5 fewer games than Ottawa (58 games played).
In a perfect world Boston wins those five games and they're now 16 points ahead of Ottawa and crushing the Northeast Division. Of course, that's a perfect world setting and we all know that this isn't a perfect world. I mean, Tom Sestito is still able to play hockey while Nathan Horton is fighting Sidney Crosby, Chris Pronger and Marc Savard for the right to play as Baby Mario in Mario Kart Wii. Ah well. My hope is that Horton can get Dry Bones and completely obliterate the others. After every race though, there's a 10 minute darkened room period.
So the Bruins are facing the first place team in the conference, a team that mirrors much of what the Bruins hold dear. Fantastic goal tending, timely goal scoring and a tough defense. Let's compare the two in some statistical categories:
|Points||Goals Scored Per Game||Goals Allowed Per Game||5 on 5 Goals For/Allowed Ratio||Power Play Success (in percent)||Penalty Kill Success (in percent)|
|Boston Bruins||70||3.36 (1st in NHL)||1.96 (2nd in NHL)||1.51 (1st in NHL)||18.8% (11th in NHL)||85.1% (7th in the NHL)|
|New York Rangers||77||2.78 (11th in NHL)||2.24 (4th in NHL)||1.33 (4th in NHL)||14.4% (25th in NHL)||87.2% (5th in the NHL)|
So as you can see, the Bruins and Rangers are comparable in a few categories.
I expect this game to be a goalie duel. The last these two teams played one another Boston lost in overtime at the Garden, 3-2. Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 33 shots and had to stop a flurry of shots before Marion Gaborik roofed an easy one to finish the game off with seconds left in overtimes. It's a fickle thing, this game of hockey. Rask was pretty much on point that game and his defense failed him. Go back and watch the video. In fact, here ya go:
Mind you, all of this happens on a 4-on-3 power play because Andrew Ference thought it was a smart idea to bury Ryan McDonagh through the boards. Okay, I probably made that sound much worse than it was, but Ference should have pulled away. That's a whole different can of worms right there. Back to the video:
9 seconds: Rask makes a great kick save on his back.
10 seconds: The puck goes right to Brad Richards who has a bunny GWG. Not so fast, Rask with another amazing save.
12 seconds: Bergeron has a chance to make a swipe at the puck. Defense is doing the right thing and collapsing into the net. Gaborik flips the puck at the net. Goes in. Ballgame.
I say hockey is such a fickle thing, because Rask went from hero to goat in a few seconds. Hell, there were people who were questioning his mental toughness based on that 12 seconds of gameplay. Some people's kids man. And how did Tuukka feel about that Gaborik goal?
Hell, he even carried on after the Rangers were celebrating their win.
That's hilarious. What's he doing? I think of it as Claude's "finding Jebus" stance:
Anyways, the real question tonight is which Ranger wins in a fight?
After the jump, the rest of the preview...
It's Valentine's Day
No one loves you
Milan Lucic - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Beniot Pouliout - David Krejci - Jordan Caron
Dan Paille - Greg Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Fuckface Corvo
Adam McQuaid - Andrew Ference
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Game Day Video
Since it's Valentine's Day, Justin wrote a song for all the bromance's out there.