The NY Rangers square off today against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins for their highly anticipated first meeting of the season. Both teams are playing strong and hard, leading their prospective divisions. The Rangers are in No. 1 in the Atlantic Division with a record of 29-12-4 and 62 points and the Bruins are No. 1 in the Northeast Division with a record of 30-13-1 and 61 points. The main difference going into today's game is that the Rangers are coming off a tough loss at home, while the Bruins are coming off a big turnaround win on the road.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the New York Rangers at the Garden Thursday night during the first and third periods. Chris Kunitz got a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist early in the first to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Rookie Carl Hagelin scored the lone goal of the game for the Rangers at the halfway point in the second period to tie the game 1-1.
It wasn't until the third period, however, that things really started to fall apart for the home team. Richard Park scored a wrist shot that beat Lundqvist with under three minutes to play, giving the Penguins the lead for the second time that night. Evgeni Malkin scored a backhanded beauty with 7:10 gone by in the third, increasing the Penguins lead to 3-1. He then scored an empty-netter with 1:40 left in the game to add insult to injury for the Blueshirts.
The Rangers, who have been known to play well during their third periods this season, need to bounce back strong today after their devastating 4-1 loss Thursday night. Thankfully, they have been able to do so after their last few losses, but they need to regain some level of consistency of wins. Rangers' captain Ryan Callahan addressed this need to get back in a winning pattern in a post-practice interview yesterday, stating:
"It's a tough stretch during the year where ya know it seems like the long of the season and we gotta make sure we bear down and start getting back on a winning streak and we can't go back and forth with a win and loss. You know we have to start and put some wins together and we gotta start with Boston."
We can expect a heavy defensive-style game today from both teams. The Bruins, however, have home-ice advantage and are coming off a 4-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night after trailing 1-0 going into the third period. The Rangers seem to be hungry enough for the win and just need to get their offensive game in order for today's challenging matchup.