WILMINGTON – By defeating the New Jersey Devils Thursday night, the Bruins improved to 30-13-1 – just one point behind the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers (29-12-4, 62).
|The Bruins faceoff with the Rangers Saturday at TD Garden.
Sure, the win puts the Bruins in a position to take over the conference lead if they beat the Rangers Saturday.
But more importantly, the win restored the confidence the Black & Gold look to carry into their battle against the second-best team in the NHL.
“It seemed once we scored that first goal [Thursday], the offensive part of our game came back as well and hopefully we can carry that into [the Rangers] game right from the get-go and continue to build on that.”
However Julien knows that the Rangers, who outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers in this year’s Winter Classic, are going to bring their best to the TD Garden.
“They’ve played well – they’ve been a good, consistent team all year and it’s going to be our first game against them,” Julien said. “There’s some excitement from our team in looking forward to the matchup and I have no doubt the same is coming on their side.
“They have some depth – that’s why they’re able to roll with four lines as well. They’re also a team that likes to play a heavy game so it will be an interesting matchup tomorrow.”
Standing in net for the Rangers will likely be Henrik Lundqvist, whose 1.93 goals against average is fourth best in the NHL.
In 23 career starts against the Bruins, Lundqvist is 16-5-2 with a 1.5 GAA and five shutouts, both of which are tied for the most against any team he’s faced.
“He’s always been a good goaltender and this is no surprise to anybody,” Julien said. “We’ve had our number of challenges at scoring goals against him. Another reason why it should be an interesting game is we have great goaltending at both ends and teams that are alike. He’s been an All-Star goaltender, and deservingly so.”
The game with the Rangers jumpstarts a busy weekend, as the Bruins visit the Philadelphia Flyers (27-14-4) Sunday, the White House on Monday and the Washington Capitals (25-18-2) Tuesday before heading back to Boston for the All-Star break.
But one of Julien’s mottos is the importance of living in the moment and taking it one game at a time, and that starts with Saturday’s bout against the Rangers.
“It will be a busy weekend no doubt,” Julien said. “Our focus has to be on the New York Rangers right now – to look any further than that wouldn’t be wise. Saying it is one thing, but it’s a matter doing it and we know how we react when we do that.
"We’re a much better hockey club and that’s what our guys have gotten used to and that’s how well approach it.”
--- Anthony Gulizia