The Boston Bruins (36-11-12, 84 points) opened the weekend by solving the Detroit Red Wings. This afternoon, the Bruins go for a sweep of non-playoff teams as they visit the suddenly surging New York Rangers (30-23-4, 64 points). It is the third and final meeting between the sides, and the second at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins have won each of the first two meetings.
Puck drop is at 3:30 pm on NBC and 98.5 The Sports Hub as part of the ‘Hockey Day in America’ celebration.
The Bruins snapped an ugly five-game losing streak against the lowly Red Wings on Saturday with their 4-1 victory at TD Garden. The win and the two points were nice, but there was a lot more to Saturday’s victory in Boston.
Bruce Cassidy collected his 200th career victory as a head coach. It was win number 153 as the Bruins bench boss. He won 47 games in his first stint as a head coach, coming with the Washington Capitals. Cassidy was happy about the honor postgame, discussing it with the assembled media at TD Garden.
“Terrific,” Cassidy told reporters. “It means you’re starting to establish some consistency in the league and your craft. That’s the positive part of it. First go-around didn’t happen that way. I kind of learned a few things and it’s working out OK.”
In addition to Cassidy’s milestone, Tuukka Rask extended his impressive home point streak to 20 games (14-0-6). He made 25 saves in the victory over the Red Wings.
David Krejci, meanwhile, played in his 900th NHL game, all coming with the Bruins. He is just the sixth Bruins player to hit that mark.
McAvoy Feeling Good
Charlie McAvoy didn’t score his first goal of the season until February 5th. It was only eleven days ago, but seems like forever. That’s because he has played so well as of late for the team. He was rewarded with another goal on Saturday afternoon. He also collected an assist.
“I mean it’s always fun to contribute that way, for sure…it helps the team,” McAvoy told reporters. He finished the game with four shots on goal, two hits, and a plus-3 rating in 20:29.
“If we’re able to take a goal like that and then get momentum going and win a game then I had helped us win. Whatever I can do.”
McAvoy’s play has taken a noticeable step forward. Fans have seen it, the players have seen it and, most importantly, Cassidy has seen it. The coach had praise for his young star defenseman after the victory.
“He’s really finding his game all around,” said Cassidy. “He was solid at the start of the year. I think he’s cleaner – breakouts, defending, just his overall game, it just looks like he found his groove now. Good to see him shoot the puck. I know in the back of his mind, he saw [David Pastrnak] over there and was thinking, ‘Should I throw it over there?'”
McAvoy will be counted on yet again this afternoon as the Bruins open a four-game road trip that will also take them to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Chris Kreider might be traded in eight days. He’s not focused on that right now. Instead, the veteran forward was busy scoring the game-winning goal with 3:11 left in Columbus on Friday night. It gave the Rangers their fourth victory in a row as they creep back into contention for a Wild Card spot.
“The way we’ve been battling, the way we’ve been winning the games, in different ways,” said Mika Zibanejad after the win. “This feels really, really good.”
Kreider agrees that it feels good, and also feels like these are important steps for a young Rangers team showing clear improvement.
“It’s a big step in the right direction for us,” added Kreider, “but we’ve still got a long way to go. Obviously there’s excitement in the room after a stretch like this and after a win like that. But enjoy it for a few minutes and get ready for arguably the best team in the League coming to MSG.”
The Rangers are 0-2-0 against one of the best teams in the league in the Bruins. A victory today would be another big step in the right direction for this young, developing group.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Bruins lines are subject to change and based off of yesterday’s win in Boston. Halak, per Cassidy, will get the start after Rask played yesterday. Halak is making his first appearance since a sudden scratch last Sunday in Detroit. Par Lindholm, Anton Blidh and John Moore are the expected scratches this afternoon. Connor Clifton (lower-body) remains on IR.
New York Rangers Lines
Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Pavel Buchnevich
Artemi Panarin – Ryan Strome – Jesper Fast
Phil Di Giuseppe – Filip Chytil – Kaapo Kakko
Brendan Lemieux – Brett Howden – Greg McKegg
Brady Skjei – Jacob Trouba
Brendan Smith – Marc Staal
Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
Rangers lines against the Bruins are subject to change. Georgiev is expected to start for the Rangers against the Bruins this afternoon, although it has not yet been confirmed.