Sunday, March 4, 2012
The Rangers Have The Bruins' Number So Far This Season
It's never a good sign when you play well against a team but they still find a way to beat you on far from their best performance.
The Bruins (38-28-3) controlled play for long stretches today against the Rangers (42-15-7) at Madison Square Garden but New York came out on top 4-3. The Rangers have won all three meetings so far this season between these two Eastern Conference powerhouse teams and they went up a whopping 12 points on the B's.
After being blessed with good health almost all of last season including the playoffs, the opposite has been true lately for the Bruins who are missing five important players (Tuukka Rask, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Andrew Ference and Daniel Paille). As a result, they can't find any consistency. They've lost three of four and still haven't won two straight since mid-January.
Spotting the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the first 6:15 never helps either. After Lane MacDermid fought Mike Rupp on MacDermid's first NHL shift, Ruslan Fedotenko (8th of the season) tipped in Anton Stralman's shot from the point at 5:05. Former BC star Brian Boyle had the other assist.
Tim Thomas (13 saves; 27-15-0) had no chance on the second one since Carl Hagelin (12th of the season) banked one off Boston defenseman Greg Zanon, from behind the net. Brad Richards and Dan Giardi assisted on the lucky tally which caused Bruins head coach Claude Julien to call a timeout.
It worked right away as Benoit Pouliot (10th of the season) cut it to 2-1 at 7:57 thanks to some fine work from linemate Jordan Caron on the forecheck. A bad turnover by the Rangers in their own end let Caron snap one past Henrik Lundqvist (30 saves; 31-12-5).
On the ensuing face-off at center ice, for some reason Brandon Prust thought it would be a good idea to fight Milan Lucic. Prust is lucky he didn't get seriously hurt taking on a guy way bigger and tougher than him.
Gregory Campbell and Stu Bickel later in the first period too, making it the third and final bout of a wild frame.
Caron (4th of the season) tied it at two 1:40 into the second with an unassisted goal that Lundqvist would probably like back. Caron's shot from the left face-off dot beat him shortside where they shouldn't be any room.
Marian Gaborik (32nd of the season) took advantage of two mistakes by the normally reliable Dennis Seidenberg to put New York back in front 3-2 at 3:14 in the third. Brad Richards and Michael Del Zotto assisted as Gaborik backhanded it in from the side of the net after Thomas made a few saves and Seidenberg tried to put it around the back of the boards but the Rangers intercepted it.
David Krejci (17th of the season) scored his fourth goal in two games, making it 3-3 at 11:42. Once again, it was thanks to fine passing and skating from his new linemates Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin.
Unfortunately just as the Bruins climbed back into it, the Rangers shut the door when Derek Stepan (14th of the season) scored 39 seconds after Krejci's goal. Thomas was screened and Stepan's shot was a laser anyway, right over Thomas' shoulder.
It wasn't Boston's day as evidenced by the absurd stop that Lundqvist made on Brad Marchand and also Gregory Campbell hit the post as well.
The regular season series between these teams will end on April Fool's Day back in New York. They played much better today than the last time they met but Boston is still searching for an elusive point(s) against the class of the East.
No update yet on Tuukka Rask's condition but the Bruins are supposed to address that tomorrow. I have a bad feeling that Tuukka might be done for the season which would be a very tough blow for Boston. The B's will travel to Toronto on Tuesday night to meet the Maple Leafs who as usual are in disarray, this time after firing head coach Ron Wilson over the weekend.
Boston has owned Toronto so far this season to the tune of 4-0 and a 23-6 goal differential. The only hitch is that they haven't played them since December 1. Let's hope the dominance continues for the Black and Gold as they'll look to snap a two-game losing streak.
Bigger picture, the Eastern Conference playoffs will definitely go through New York. The question is if the Bruins (our concern) or somebody else can beat the Rangers since it appears to be their time to make a Cup run. These things can change in a shift though so stay tuned.