The first of two opportunities for the Boston Bruins
to get some confidence against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers
comes Sunday at Madison Square Garden, according to NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick
The Rangers already have beaten the Bruins twice at TD Garden, but Sunday's nationally televised game (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NHLN-CA) is the first of two meetings at Madison Square Garden in the next month. Boston also comes down to play the Rangers on April 1 in what could be another NHL on NBC Game of the Week.
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"You don't want to be the team that loses the last couple of games against each other because it becomes part of the confidence factor," Roenick told NHL.com. "So, the Boston Bruins
have to learn and believe that they can win in Madison Square Garden. Mentally it's a big issue. When you go into a building that you've had trouble playing in, you can't help but be nervous and not totally ready, prepared and confident going into the game. So for the Bruins, they have to learn that they can beat the Rangers in MSG because they might have to in order to win the Stanley Cup."
Roenick said he believes the Bruins very much still are a Cup contender despite their slightly better than average record in the last nearly two months. Since losing to Vancouver at home on Jan. 7, the Bruins are 12-10-2. They haven't lost any more than two in a row, but they also haven't had anything better than just one two-game winning streak.
They're going for their second two-game winning streak Saturday against the Islanders at TD Garden. Boston beat New Jersey in overtime on Thursday.
"Yes, I do think they're good enough, but they've played more hockey than any team in the NHL other than the Canucks in the last year and that will play a large role in their fatigue level right now," Roenick said. "Once the playoffs come around, your mentality changes. You get into playoff mode and that's where the fun starts. Playing right now is not fun; when playoffs start it becomes fun. That instantly will revive them."
The Rangers, Roenick said, should be in a completely different frame of mind right now. They won't need to be revived come playoff time; they just need to keep thriving before they get there.
The Rangers carry a three-game winning streak into Friday's game at Tampa Bay, and they're 12-3-2 since their 3-2 overtime win against the Bruins on Feb. 14.
"They need to keep that mojo up," Roenick said. "The Rangers don't need to change anything; they just have to maintain. Their goal scoring will keep coming if they play a good defensive game. The Rangers have to make sure their goaltender stays healthy and they maintain their level of play; if they do that than they're going to be just fine."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl