BOSTON – Although they’ve already clinched the Northeast Division and earned home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Boston Bruins are still looking to climb the Eastern Conference standings.
Tonight, as the Bruins take on the New York Rangers in their second to last road game of the regular season, Boston will look to gain ground on Philadelphia and Washington, who currently sit tied on top of the conference.
Boston is currently in third place overall in the East with 99 points. The Flyers and Capitals are just four points ahead of the B’s with 103 -- ground the Bruins could make up with a game in hand on both teams.
Meanwhile, the Rangers enter tonight’s game clinging to eighth place in the conference. Coming off a critical shootout win over Philadelphia last night in Pennsylvania.
New York will try to take two points from the Bruins in an attempt to keep ninth place Carolina, just two point behind a playoff spot, from knocking them out of the postseason.
Boston enters tonight’s game with a 6-2-2 record in their last ten, and a 6-3-1 mark in their last ten road games. The Bruins haven’t played a road game since defeated Philadelphia 2-1 on March 27.
The Rangers have been streaking lately, as they’ve had get hot in order to keep in their position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
New York comes into tonight’s contest with a 7-2-1 record in their last ten match-ups, but only a 5-4-1 mark in their last ten home games.
Last time vs. NY Rangers
The last time these two teams faced off, on March 26, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stood tall for New York, shutting out Boston in a 1-0 game.
|New York Rangers' Marc Staal (18) tries to break up the play as Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) skated in on a breakaway during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 26, 2011, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) |
Boston was out-shot 9-8 in the first period where the Rangers scored their only goal of the game, taking the early 1-0 lead.
Derek Stepan netted his 20th of the season at 6:39 in the opening frame.
“I definitely don’t think it was my bad. But maybe I take a step to the left and I was kind of wanting to catch the puck and then it tipped,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask
said of the goal.
Many Bruins players credited the Rangers’ shot-blocking skills with stifling the Boston offense.
“We have to appreciate that, guys throw their bodies around like that,” Rask said after the game. “It’s tough to get those shots through when guys are willing to block shots and I think that’s where every team wants to be.”
In the final ten minutes of the affair, Boston was able to control sustained pressure in the New York zone, but Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist came up big for New York, denying all of the B’s attempts.
“I think we just stuck with it, kept firing away and a couple of them found their way through. We had enough quality chances to try and earn ourselves a goal. It just, we didn’t get one,” Bruins defensemen Andrew Ference
“So we did what we could and played I think a solid third period to try to get back. But between their blocked shots and their goaltending, they did a good job.”
Marchand wins 7th Player Award
With 21 goals this season, including five shorthanded tallies, Bruins rookie forward Brad Marchand
has exceeded everybody’s expectations, and today, he was recognized for it.
|NESN's Jack Edwards presents Brad Marchand with the 7th Player Trophy prior to the Bruins/Thrashers game on Sat. April 2, 2011. |
Prior to the start of Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers, NESN and Central Jeep of Norwood and Raynham announced that Marchand was named the winner of NESN’s Seventh Player award.
Following the game, Marchand took a moment to thank the sold-out TD Garden crowd of 17, 565 to giving him the honor.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support and anyone who casted a vote,” Marchand said to the crowd.
“It’s been a great year and you’re the best fans in the league, so thank you for everything. And let’s keep it going through the playoffs.”
Voted on by Bruins fans, NESN’s Seventh Player Award is an annual award presented to the Bruins we went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the 2010-11 season.
Marchand certainly has done that. This year, in his first full season with the Bruins, the 22-year-old has 21-19-40 scoring totals in 72 games for Boston. His five shorthanded goals rank him second in the league behind the Islanders’ Frans Nielsen (7).
“To get an award as special as this one, it’s a great honor,” Marchand said.
A 2006 Bruins draft pick (third round, 71st overall) Marchand received the Seventh Player Award Trophy, and in addition, received $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.
Hnidy makes season debut
For the first time since April 10, 2010 with Minnesota, Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy suited up and took the ice for a NHL hockey game, as he made his season debut in Saturday’s 3-2 B’s victory over Atlanta.
Hnidy took 13 shifts for 13:53 of ice time, recording three shots and picking up a minor penalty in his debut.
“It felt good. I’m glad to kind of get it out of the way. I knew it was coming and it’s nice to kind of top it off with a win and the division title. So all in all it went well,” Hnidy said after the game.
“I was nervous. I can admit. Last night there were a few butterflies just wondering about how it would go. But I think once I got out there actually the first shift went really well. I kind of got to feel the puck right away.
“And as soon as I made a couple plays it’s like it all comes back,” he said.
The Bruins signed Hnidy as a free agent on Feb. 26, to add depth to their backend, and Hnidy has been working hard to return to game shape since Boston gave him a second chance after he suffered a shoulder injury in Phoenix Coyotes training camp.
“Early in the game I was kind of keeping an eye on him and he was determined to keep it simple, but efficient,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said after the game.
“And that’s where, we talked about it before the game, the one thing he does have is experience in this league so he’s smart enough to handle the situation the right way.”
Hnidy, pleased with the way he performed, in the end, was just glad to get that first game under his belt and move on.
“I just control my job and helping guys here that we got to really push ourselves. This is, this is what hockey is all about,” said Hnidy.
“This is the time of year we got to finish strong, play hard. It’s fun to come to the rink everyday, especially when I’ve been home as long as I was. It’s great to come and be with the boys and enjoy this experience.
“I’m happy, happy it’s kind of over and done with. It was fun and I enjoyed it.”
Player Profile: Rich Peverley
When the Bruins acquired 28-year-old forward Rich Peverley
, they knew they were getting an offensive minded player with a ton of speed that could help the B’s offense heading down the stretch run of the season.
|New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist (30), of Sweden, watches as Boston Bruins' Rich Peverley (49) tries to control the puck in front of the net in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 26, 2011, in Boston. The Rangers won 1-0. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) |
Since coming to Boston after a Feb. 18 trade that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta in exchange for Peverley and Boris Valabik, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound forward has 2-2-4 totals in 19 games, including a shorthanded goal.
Peverley played his first game in a spoked-b sweater on Feb. 22 in Boston’s 3-1 victory over Calgary. The natural center has been a versatile addition for Boston, skating on the wing of the Bruins’ third line alongside Tyler Seguin
, while Chris Kelly
pivots the trio.
Peverley is in his seventh NHL season, and third team. Originally signed as a free-agent by the Predators on Jan, 18, 2007, Peverley played two partial season with Nashville before being traded to Atlanta in the 2008-09 season.
This season, Peverley is having one of his best offensive campaigns with 16-22-38 totals in 78 games. He has added seven multiple-games to the mix and has recorded at least one shot on goal in 71 of his 78 games played.
The Kingston, Ontario-native played in his 200th NHL game on Oct. 20 when the Thrashers took on the Sabres, and has a career 58-90-148 scoring line.
As the Bruins prepare for the postseason, Peverley has little playoff experience to bring to the table. His only postseason appearance came in his rookie season with Nashville, playing in six games and collecting two assists.