After playing their best game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres, the Rangers will have another tough test when they host the Boston Bruins (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
The Blueshirts snapped a five-game losing skid against the league-leading Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. The Rangers didn’t just beat the Sabres; they dominated the Sabres and came away with a 6-2 victory. The new lines made by head coach David Quinn seemed to make a difference as the second and third lines were causing problems all night for Buffalo. Goals were scored by Artemi Panarin, Brett Howden, Tony DeAngelo, Chris Kreider, and two for Ryan Strome.
“That was obviously a good game,” Strome said. “Regardless of who produced, we needed that one as a team. It feels good right now. We worked hard for that one.”
“We didn’t show the Rangers enough respect and they punished us for it,” said Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger.
Henrik Lundqvist had his best game of the young season. The 37-year-old stopped 31 shots including some quality chances. Lundqvist will make the start against the Bruins.
“It’s important to go out there and show everyone we’re not just talking,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to what you do in a game to prove it.”
While the new lines seemed to help the Blueshirts, Quinn wasn’t necessarily sure that was the reason for the offensive success.
“It was a good step in the right direction. Give our leaders a ton of credit,” Quinn said. “It wasn’t just the lines. A lot of guys came here with purpose tonight.”
And to the shock of many, the Rangers forwards practiced Saturday with a slight change in the lineup. Jesper Fast joins Mika Zibanejad and Kreider on the first line and Kaapo Kakko joins Brendan Lemieux and Brett Howden on the third line. Quinn made it clear that it was about moving Fast up and not moving Kakko down.
The Boston Bruins are coming off a 3-0 win in a Stanley Cup final rematch against the Blues on Saturday night. With Rask earning a shutout Saturday night, Jaroslav Halak will make the start for the Black and Gold. Halak appeared in all three games against the Rangers last year and only came out with one victory while allowing an average of one goal a period. Like last year, the Rangers will have to do their best in shutting down the top line of the Bruins consisting of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. While Bergeron has eight points and Marchand has 15 points, it’s Pastrnak who is off to the hottest start. The 23-year-old leads the league with eleven goals in just ten games played. He finds himself fourth in the league in total points with 18. The depth for the Bruins has taken a hit with the loss of David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman. No Bruins forward not on the first line has more than three points.
The Blueshirts will have to do a good job of staying out of the penalty box. The Bruins have the third-ranked power play and have scored ten power-play goals in ten games. But at even strength, Boston has just 19 goals which average to under two goals a game.
The Strength of the Bruins come from their defense and goalies. The Bruins are the best defensive team in the league and are the only team that has a goals against average below 2.00.
After playing their best game of the season, the Rangers now will have to be consistent and have another strong performance against the Bruins. Like they did against Buffalo, they will have to play a complete game against the Bruins. DeAngelo has points in two straight games and he hopes the Rangers can sustain the success they found on Thursday.
“If we can break out pucks, which is our main focus, we’re going to be good because we have a lot of speed and a lot of talent,” DeAngelo said. “The quicker we’re out of the D zone, the more chances we’re going to have.”
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