BOSTON — The Bruins and Rangers finally meet for the first time this season Saturday afternoon at the Garden.
One point separates the Original Six rivals, and the Bruins can leapfrog New York into the top spot in the East with a victory. With those stakes, not even Bruins coach Claude Julien would try to pass this showdown off as just another regular-season game.
"To say this is another game? It's not," Julien said. "It's two teams battling for first place. It's two teams that haven't played each other yet. If they say it's just another game, then I'm going to call them liars. It's one of those games that I think both teams are really excited about and looking forward to."
As part of his gamesmanship, Julien wouldn't reveal his starting goaltender even when speaking just an hour before the start of the game.
Tuukka Rask is expected to get the nod though after Tim Thomas played the last two games. Rask has sat out three straight games just once since Thanksgiving, and has a 1.62 GAA and .946 save percentage in five career games against the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist, who is 16-5-2 with a 1.50 GAA and .947 save percentage against Boston, is expected to get the start for the Rangers.
Dave Jackson and Tom Kowal will be the referees, with Scott Cherrey and Brian Murphy working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Adam McQuaid
Andrew Ference-Joe Corvo
Scratches: Zach Hamill
Projected Rangers lines
Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Mike Rupp-Artem Anisimov-John Mitchell
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Anton Stralman
Marc Staal-Stu Bickel