Game time is set for 8:00 p.m. ET (NBCSN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The tilt will kick off a set of three games in four nights for the Black & Gold, and the first leg of a back-to-back that will conclude in Boston on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
After dropping their last three games, all on the California road trip, the Bruins are looking to get back in the win column. They have not dropped four in a row all season.
“After coming back from that road trip, I think we need to get ourselves back on track here,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team’s pregame skate. “And a way to get back on track is to be ready at the drop of the puck and understand who you’re up against and what you need to do to win.”
Not having to chase the game will give the Bruins better results, especially as they look to break through offensively. They were outscored 9-3 in California, though they generated chances — and ran into elite netminding, especially in Anaheim and Los Angeles.
“I think we just have to bear down a little bit more,” said Brad Marchand. “As long as we continue to go to the net and get the opportunities and bear down a little more, they’re going to go in. As long as we keep crashing the net and put pucks there and go there hard, things are going to go well for us.”
“I think the confidence will start rolling here for us,” said Torey Krug. “This time of year, you have to be determined. It’s harder for goals to go in and you’ve just got to make sure you stay on top of it and don’t get frustrated.”
Bruins-Rangers Always Tight
When the Bruins and Rangers meet, the games are most often tight, competitive, low scoring affairs. The same should be true on Wednesday night, especially with nine games remaining in the regular season for each team.
“With nine games left and losing three in a row, we definitely have to be playing our best hockey right now,” said Marchand.
Standings-wise, the Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division with 86 points. Tampa Bay now leads the division with 89 points, while Florida is in the second spot (also with 89 points). Detroit isn’t far behind Boston at 83 points.
“Standings are so tight, you have to be able to win games and put a few wins together, especially going into the playoffs,” said Marchand. “You want to be playing your best hockey in the playoffs, you can’t afford to make little mistakes, you’ve got to make sure you’re playing your best and that’s what we have to start doing.”
The Rangers are in a similar standings situation within the Metropolitan Division. They are ranked second at 90 points, with Pittsburgh (88) close behind and the Islanders (85) and Flyers (83) both in Wild Card spots.
They are coming off a 4-2 win over the Panthers that came after their own West Coast swing. Like the Bruins, this is an important end-of-season stretch for them.
“There’s a lot at play for, for both teams in the standings,” said Julien. “I think both teams here will be giving it everything they have. Obviously we feel that we need to get ourselves back on track and they’ve got an opportunity in the standings to solidify themselves, so a lot for both teams.”
Rask Back on the Ice
Tuukka Rask was back on the ice Wednesday morning at Madison Square Garden. He was “under the weather,” according to Julien, on Tuesday and did not practice with the team.
He was the first goalie off the ice at pregame skate, indicating that he would get the start in goal.
When Julien was asked if Rask was good to go for this evening, he said that he had not yet talked to Rask following the skate.
Vatrano Could Slot In
Frank Vatrano was recalled from Providence on Tuesday, and could be slotting into the lineup against the Rangers.
The forward rotated with the fourth line during rushes in pregame skate. Tyler Randell and Brett Connolly both stayed on for extra work following pregame skate, suggesting that they could be healthy scratches (with Jimmy Hayes skating on the third line with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner).
If Vatrano plays, he would be suiting up in his first NHL action since Jan. 19 in Montreal.
“I think our top two lines have been producing on a fairly regular basis, but we need a little bit of secondary scoring here,” Julien had said following Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, before the team traveled to New York. “And if [Frank Vatrano] he gets in there, hopefully he has some scoring and he can give us some of that.”
During his previous stint with Boston, Vatrano put up six goals (including a hat trick) and an assist through 30 games. With Providence this season, Vatrano has 33 goals in 33 games.
“Just being consistent — and not just in scoring, point wise — I think just being good defensively in all areas of the game is what I needed to work on while I was down there,” Vatrano said after the Bruins’ Tuesday practice. “I think I did a good job at that and I think Boston noticed that, all of the things I was working on, and that was something I really took to heart when I went down. Even now, I’ve still got to keep working on those things.”
Line Rushes During Pregame Skate 3/23
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron—Lee Stempniak
Loui Eriksson—David Krejci—David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey—Ryan Spooner—Jimmy Hayes/Brett Connolly
Landon Ferraro/Frank Vatrano—Noel Acciari—Tyler Randell
Defense Pairs During Pregame Skate 3/23
Zdeno Chara—Kevan Miller
John-Michael Liles—Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug—Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow—Zach Trotman
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson, Jeremy Smith
-Connolly, Ferraro, Morrow and Trotman stayed on for extra work following pregame skate.
-Rask was the first goaltender off the ice at pregame skate.
-Smith traveled with the team after being recalled from Providence on an emergency basis, since Rask was under the weather and did not practice on Tuesday.