The Bruins come into a Saturday night showdown with the Rangers riding a four-game win streak, and they'll be looking to do something they never managed to do last season. That's winning a fifth game in a row.
New York, meanwhile, snapped a three-game losing streak of its own on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Toronto. The Rangers have been the epitome of mediocre so far this season, posting a 2-2-1 record and scoring 16 goals while allowing 17.
But New York is still a dangerous team that has given the Bruins plenty of fits in recent years. Boston-New York matchups always bring some electricity — and a full house — to the Garden, whether it's TD or Madison Square, and usually keep those fans on the edge of their seats with tight games that go down to the wire.
Boston Bruins (4-1-0, 8 points) vs. New York Rangers (2-2-1, 5 points)
Oct. 19, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
This is the first of four meetings this season between the Original Six rivals. The Rangers won three of the four clashes last year, but Boston holds a 282-235-97-6 edge in the all-time series.
Tim Thomas continued his spectacular start with a 38-save effort in Thursday's 4-1 win against Washington. He's now 4-0-0 with a 0.75 GAA and a .978 save percentage on the season, having stopped 133 of the 136 shots he's faced this year. Tuukka Rask led the NHL in both goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931) last season, but lost the season opener in Prague to Phoenix when he allowed four goals on 36 shots and has not played since.
For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist is the workhorse, but he's off to an uncharacteristic slow start with a 1-2-1 record, 3.75 GAA and an .892 save percentage. Martin Biron is a more than capable backup, winning his only start so far to go 1-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and a .960 save percentage.
The Rangers have a strong New England flavor with forwards Drury (Trumbull, Conn./Boston University) and Brian Boyle (Hingham, Mass./Boston College) and defenseman Matt Gilroy (Boston University). Coach John Tortorella (Concord, Mass.) and assistant Mike Sullivan (Marshfield, Mass.) also have local ties, and Sullivan also played for the Bruins in 1997-98 and coached them from 2003-06. Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark also played, coached and scouted for the Bruins, while assistant director of player personnel Jeff Gorton was an assistant GM and interim GM for Boston.
The Bruins and Rangers each have three fighting majors this season. Brandon Prust leads New York with two, while heavyweight Derek Boogaard had his first fight as a Ranger against Colton Orr on Thursday. Greg Campbell led Boston with two, while Milan Lucic has the other. Last year, there were two fights in the four-game series, with Shawn Thornton taking on Donald Brashear and Steve Begin fighting Prust.
The Bruins are rolling right now, playing solid in all three zones. They got their power play going at last on Thursday, the only weakness in their game so far this season. With that clicking, the top line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Lucic combining for eight goals and 19 points already and Thomas playing out of his mind, the Bruins are the hottest team in the NHL right now. But the Leafs may have held that honor before falling to New York on Thursday, so the Rangers are certainly capable of slowing the Bruins' momentum as well. This one promises to be another entertaining early-season test for the Bruins.
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