Bruins-Rangers Preview: Rivalry To Be Renewed At Madison Square Garden

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The Boston Bruins hope to extend their winning streak to three games Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden against a New York Rangers team that boasts one of the NHL’s most potent offenses.

New York ranks sixth in goals scored per game and has seven players who’ve tallied 20-plus points and seven 10-plus goal scorers. The Bruins did a nice job shutting down this Rangers offense in a 3-0 win Jan. 15 — the only meeting between the teams this season. Tuukka Rask stopped all 30 shots he faced and helped Boston go 3 for 3 in short-handed situations.

In fact, the Bruins have given up two goals or fewer in five of their last six games. Much of that defensive success should be attributed to Rask, who led all goaltenders in January with a .949 save percentage and a 1.61 goals against average.

Here’s a quick preview of Wednesday night’s game.

TV, Radio Information: NBC Sports Network and 98.5 The Sports Hub

Season Series: 1-0 Bruins (Boston won 3-0 on Jan. 15 at TD Garden)

Record: Boston (27-16-7, fourth in Atlantic), New York (29-15-4, third in Metropolitan)

Bruins Player To Watch: Brad Marchand leads the Bruins with 15 goals, and four of them have been scored in the last five games. He scored twice and led the B’s with seven shots in a 3-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Rangers Player To Watch: Rangers winger Rick Nash is tied for the league lead with 31 goals, but he has struggled against the Bruins throughout his New York career. He has only one goal in his last nine games against the B’s, including Boston’s five-game Round 2 playoff series win over New York in 2013. Nash was held scoreless with three shots when the Blueshirts lost to the Bruins in January.

Key Stat For Bruins: Boston’s plus-7 goal differential in the first period this season is its best in any period. The Bruins are 17-5-2 when they score first and 14-3-1 when leading after the first period. Chasing the game against Boston’s defensive structure and a goaltender of Rask’s caliber is very difficult for opponents. The Rangers fell behind 1-0 at TD Garden in January and didn’t recover.

Key Stat For Rangers: New York is the second-worst team in the league on faceoffs with a 46.5 win percentage. Rangers top-six centers Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard both are below 50 percent on draws, while Dominic Moore is the only New York center above 50 percent.

This could be a problem area for the Rangers because the Bruins rank fourth with a 53.3 faceoff percentage. Boston earned a 40-34 faceoff advantage in the previous meeting between these teams last month.

Thumbnail photo via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports Images

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