The battle for first in the Eastern Conference is upon us as the Bruins welcome the Rangers to the TD Garden. First off, I want to state my displeasure with the Rangers. Last year I took my daughter to her first Boston Bruins game and it was against the Rangers. I told her how exciting it is to hear the goal horn and dance to Zombie Nation. So what happens? The Rangers fucking shut out the Bruins and all my kid had was those little brats on the ice during intermission (which was actually her favorite part of the game, fail).
So the Rags are once again invading the TD Garden. What's especially shitty about this is that New York is good this year. Like the title mentions, this games means something (well, something in terms of January standings) to these teams. Not only is the game about first place int he Eastern Conference, but it's a measuring stick for both teams. It's likely that with Pittsburgh's fall from grace, Florida being Florida and Washington having the goal tending of the Hawks when they faced the Mighty Ducks in the District Championship, that the Bruins and Rangers will battle for 1st and 2nd in the Eastern Conference. Of course, now that I look at the standings, Ottawa (Yeah, Ottawa) is only a point behind the Bruins. That's fucked up.
Actually, it could be possible that if Boston loses tonight and Ottawa wins that Boston is in 4th in the East. I feel like I haven't written about something like that since they were in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Anyway, enough of the standings watch. Again, it's only January.
The biggest thing here is that these teams are very similar. They both have outstanding goal tending. Henrik Lundvist currently sports a 20-10-4 record with a 1.93 GAA and a .936 save percentage. Since the 2008-2009 season, Lundqvist has played the Bruins 16 times. His record is 8-4-4 with a 1.25 GAA, .942 SV%, and 2 shutouts. The scary thing is that Tuukka's stats are comparable (outside of the win/loss record). Tuukka has played the Rangers 5 times, sports a 2-3 record, a 1.60 GAA, .945 SV% and 2 shutouts. Nearly identical.
This, of course, is only relevant if Tuukka Rask plays, which is always a question when it comes to Claude. You never know how is he going to put on the ice because he has two goalies who are pretty good. Just for shits and giggles, I number crunched some of Tim Thomas' stats against the Rangers. Since 08-09 season Thomas has faced the Rangers 6 times. He has a 2-3-1 record with a 2.00 GAA, .933 SV% and 1 shutout. Not as good as Tuukka's stats, but not to shabby.
No matter which goalie you go with, it's virtually win/win.
Boston's record at home is 16-7-1 while the Rangers road record is 15-7-2. I mean, Jebus Christo, something has to give right?
Well it does in the special teams area. The Bruins have a much better power play than the Rangers, which is something I'd never thought I'd say. The Bruins are ranked 11th overall in the NHL with an 18.7% success rate. The Rangers are ranked 24th overall with a 14.1% success rate. Normally, this means shit in one regular season game but since the Bruins and Rangers are virtually tied everywhere else, this may be something big. In the penalty kill area the teams are neck and neck. The Rangers are 3rd overall with an 87% success rate at killing penalties. Boston is 6th overall with an 86.5% success rate.
I predict a low scoring affair no matter who is in net for Boston. I have the feeling it will be an old school goalie duel.
After the jump...
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Rich Peverley - Chris Kelly - Beniot Pouliot
Dan Paille - Greg Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid
Puck Drop: 1pm EST
TV: NESN, NHL Network (US, non-Boston market)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Online Feeds: Here
Do You Know Your Enemy?
Game Day Video
Fuck off Avery
Time to Go!