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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Rangers

Boston set for matchup against one of East's best

by Chris Weyant @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com - Another night, another victory.

Though the B's were quick to note they started slow, they still managed to log a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, their seventh in eight games under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

The Bruins will be back in action on Thursday night, when the New York Rangers cross the state line for a Thursday night contest with heavy playoff implications.

Thursday's game will be the final of three matchups between the two teams this season. The Rangers took the first two contests, each by a final score of 5-2.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Here is what you need to know:

Gearing Up for The Stretch Run

The Bruins (33-24-6, 72 points) are looking for their fourth consecutive win on Thursday night. But they'll have to go through one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference to do so.

After Wednesday's practice ran with no changes in lines or defense pairings, Patrice Bergeron spoke about his team's confidence level as of late.

Video: Bergeron talks about Bruins recent surge

"It's good, it's high," said Bergeron. "You need to keep it that way. I think we need to believe in ourselves that we can do that every night."

Bergeron has been one of the hottest players in the league as of late, adding another two assists to his resume on Tuesday. The Bruins alternate captain now has amassed 30 points (11 goals and 19 assists) in his last 26 games, returning to his elite level of play after trying to find his offensive game in the early going.

The Bruins might have a new face in the lineup against the Rangers after acquiring forward Drew Stafford from the Winnipeg Jets for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft at Wednesday's trade deadline. Stafford will travel to Boston Thursday and should be in town by later in the afternoon.

"We're fortunate that we were able to add Drew to our lineup," said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. "I felt that it was an area that we could add, and I was going to look to do that without pulling away into the things that we'd been committed to doing."

"Excited about a player that has the ability to play up and down the lineup, has scoring attributes, has some size and strength, and hopefully will be a good complement to our group."

Video: Bruins acquire Drew Stafford from Winnipeg

Opposing View: New York Rangers

The Rangers (40-21-2, 82 points) were active prior to the trade deadline, in part due to the loss of defenseman Dan Girardi, who will be out around two weeks with an ankle injury.

In response, the Blueshirts pulled the trigger on a deal, acquiring former Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft and a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Adding Smith to their lineup has bolstered a back end that already boasts the likes of Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, the team's No. 1 defenseman and captain.

McDonagh is a plus-16 on the season, with three goals and 31 assists, and figures to match up with the Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci lines often on Thursday. He averages 24:16 of time on ice this season, leading the team.

A balanced scoring attack has been key for the Rangers, who have eight players with ten or more goals this season.

Michael Grabner (26 goals) and Boston College alum Chris Kreider (23 goals) have led the goal scoring charge for New York.

Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta have been a steady constant in goal. Lundqvist, the team's No. 1 option, has appeared in 48 games, posting a 2.67 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Lundqvist is 24-12-2 in 38 career games against the Bruins with a 1.95 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.

New York ranks fourth in the NHL in goals for (3.24 goals per game) and 11th in the NHL in goals allowed (2.63 goals per game).

Wait, There's More

  • The Bruins once again scored first on Tuesday against Arizona, marking the sixth consecutive game they have scored the first goal of the game.
  • Thursday will mark the 643rd all-time meeting between the Bruins and the Rangers. The Bruins hold a 291-245-97-9 record against New York.
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