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Wednesday Night Rivalry

5 Reasons to watch Bruins-Rangers

Original Six opponents play for first time this season in Wednesday Night Rivalry game

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers each will try to continue their improved performance after a slow start when they play at Madison Square Garden in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

The Rangers come into the game with four consecutive victories and are 7-7-2 after a 1-5-2 start. Boston (6-4-3) is 4-1-3 in its past eight games. Each team is coming off a 5-3 home win Monday; the Rangers rallied to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Bruins held off the Minnesota Wild.

Here are 5 reasons to tune in:

 

Longtime rivalry

The Bruins and Rangers haven't been in the same division for decades, but there's rarely any love lost when these two Original Six rivals play. The rivalry goes back to the Rangers' arrival in the NHL in 1926, two years after the Bruins joined the League. They struggled together for most of the 1960s, then became elite teams at the same time in the late 1960s and played in the 1972 Stanley Cup Final (won by the Bruins in six games). The Rangers have won their past five games against the Bruins and are 4-0-0 at the Garden since Boston won 6-3 on March 2, 2014.

 

Struggling goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers (2012) and Tuukka Rask of the Bruins (2014) each has won the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goaltender during his career. But neither is off to the kind of start his team needs. Lundqvist is 6-4-2 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. Rask, who missed time with a concussion, is 3-4-2 with a 2.73 GAA and .903 save percentage. Lundqvist has won his past four starts despite allowing 12 goals on 121 shots. Rask is 2-1-2 in his past five starts, allowing 12 goals on 145 shots.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Lundqvist flashes the leather for glove save

 

Bruins injuries

Boston coach Bruce Cassidy had six rookies in his lineup for the win against the Wild because of injuries, and most of them are likely to dress against the Rangers. Forward Brad Marchand, whose 14 points (eight goals, six assists) are tied with forward David Pastrnak for the Bruins lead, didn't make the trip to New York and will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Top-six forward David Krejci (back) and forward David Backes (colon surgery) are among a half-dozen other Bruins who won't play. Boston got goals from five players in the win against Minnesota, including rookies Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly, and will need that kind of balanced offense again.

 

Power surge

The Rangers and Bruins are among the League's best on the power play so far this season. The Rangers are third with 15 man-advantage goals in 16 games; the Bruins have 12 in 13 games. The power play (6-for-15, 40 percent) has been a major driver in New York's four-game winning streak. Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is tied for the League lead with five power-play goals and tied for second with 10 power-play points.

Video: BOS@CBJ: Bergeron slams home one-timer for PPG

 

Patrice Bergeron

The Rangers offense has come to life during their winning streak. That means Bergeron, one of the best two-way centers in NHL history, will be counted on even more than usual. Bergeron has eight points (two goals, six assists) in eight games after missing the first five games with a lower-body injury. But Bergeron is even more important for his other skills; he's a four-time winner of the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward in the NHL and is annually among the League leaders in face-off win percentage. If the Rangers' top line struggles offensively, Bergeron is likely to be a major reason why.

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