The Boston Bruins (9-1-2, 20 pts) and the New York Rangers (4-5-3, 11 pts) finish the second game of their two-game series at Madison Square Garden and play the second of eight games against each other this season.
The Boston Bruins are riding a four-game win streak (with comebacks in each of those four games) and sit third in the NHL with a plus-13 goal differential this season. Meanwhile, the Rangers, whom many expected to take a step forward this season, have stumbled out of the gate and sit near the bottom of the East Division ahead of only the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, who have each been sidelined by COVID-19 postponements.
Jaroslav Halak (3-0-1, 1.72 GAA, .923 save percentage) is expected to get the start for the Bruins after three straight winning outings for Tuukka Rask, including his adventure while losing track of the score in the final minute of the third period in Wednesday night’s OT win.
– Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (lower-body) will be out for the Bruins after not looking completely healed in his return to the lineup on Wednesday night, and has missed five of the last six games and seven games overall due to injuries this season. Connor Clifton will return to the lineup after an impressive stint subbing in for Grzelcyk for four games that included a spirited scrap with Nicolas Aube-Kubel last week in Philly.
Jack Studnicka (upper body) is skated with Providence this week and played for the P-Bruins against Hartford on Thursday as he works his way back from injury. Ondrej Kase (upper-body) has been working out on the bike and is getting closer to skating but remains on injured reserve at this point for the Bruins.
– The Bruins are 0-for-4 on the powerplay in their last two games, but they’re still in the NHL’s top-10 in power plays this season. The good news is that they are finally showing they are going to be able to win games even when their special teams aren’t leading the way for them offensively. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been tinkering with things on special teams and has used five forwards on the top PP unit. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Nick Ritchie manned the first power play unit at times during Wednesday night’s game. Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith were on the second unit, but Cassidy said he will use different combos in different situations. One of the issues has been finding a point man for the top PP unit that will consistently be a threat to create offense as Torey Krug was during his days quarterbacking that top power play unit.
–Charlie McAvoy set up Wednesday night’s overtime game-winner with a perfect bank pass off the boards that freed up Brad Marchand for his breakaway goal. McAvoy has points in eight consecutive games and has become the first Bruins defenseman since Ray Bourque to accomplish that offensive feat as he continues to evolve offensively.
What a sequence all around.
Great play by McAvoy to set up Marchand’s OT winner. pic.twitter.com/Y0HR9xRWYa
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 11, 2021
– ‘The Perfection Line’ has once again established itself as arguably the best line in the NHL. Brad Marchand (8g, 8a) and Patrice Bergeron (6g, 10a) are tied for the team lead in points with 16 apiece. Marchand’s eight lamplighters are a team-best and Bergeron’s ten helpers lead the team as well. After missing the first seven games, winger David Pastrnak has returned on a mission, with five goals and three assists in five games, including his ninth career hat trick.
– Seven of the Bruins’ first 12 games have gone to overtime and two have gone to the shootout. The Bruins are 5-2 in the extra frames, going 2-0 in the shootout.
– The Rangers are struggling mightily on the power play and sit just 1-for-12 in 21:07 with the man-advantage in the past four games and 2-for-25 in 41:51 over the past eight contests.
The Rangers are 6-for-46 on the man advantage this season with a dismal 13 percent success rate. The Rangers’ powerplay is ranked 26th in the NHL.
– The Rangers are ranked 8th in the league on the penalty kill. They’ve allowed seven powerplay goals against 41 attempts and have an 82.9 success rate.
–It’s certainly not all bad for the Blueshirts as Julien Gauthier scored his first NHL goal in the OT loss for the Rangers and Mika Zibanejad was all over the ice creating offensive chances with four shots on net and six shot attempts. It took a couple of Grade-A saves from Rask in the second period to keep Zibanejad off the scoresheet for the Rangers.
Mika: “I felt like my old self today. Obviously tough with the loss, but felt a lot better. The chances were there. Just have to keep going and keep getting a little bit better every game.” pic.twitter.com/oskVn4JmpP
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 11, 2021
– Rangers sniper Artemi Panarin appeared to be hobbled by a lower body injury in the final minutes of Wednesday’s OT loss, but his status has been unconfirmed for Friday night. Rangers defensemen Jack Johnson (groin) and Brendan Smith (upper-body), are both day-to-day. Forward Colin Blackwell is also day-to-day with an upper-body injury and forward Filip Chytil (upper-body) is on injured reserve and is week-to-week.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy
Connor Clifton – Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril – Kevan Miller
New York Rangers Lines
Chris Kreider — Mika Zibanejad — Pavel Buchnevich
Artemi Panarin — Ryan Strome — Kaapo Kakko
Alexis Lafreniere — Brett Howden — Phil Di Giuseppe
Brendan Lemieux — Kevin Rooney — Julien Gauthier
Ryan Lindgren — Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller — Jacob Trouba
Libor Hajek — Anthony Bitetto