Henrik Lundqvist faces Tuukka Rask as season opens Saturday
BOSTON -- Almost a year ago to the day, last Jan. 21, Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask squared off at TD Garden, with Marian Gaborik's overtime goal giving the Rangers a 3-2 win over the Bruins. When the NHL season opens Saturday, the goaltenders will have a rematch.
Lundqvist, who is 4-1-1 with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in six career season openers, played all four games against the Bruins last season, winning three. Rask played one, with Tim Thomas, now semi-retired, handling the other three.
Netminders have been the stars in the recent history of the two clubs, with 17 of the last 21 games decided by one goal. It will be Lundqvist's 25th consecutive start against the Bruins, who finished second to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference last season and have most of their lineup returning, including 12 players who kept in game shape by playing in Europe or Russia during the lockout.
Only a handful of Rangers played overseas, but coach John Tortorella said he was pleased with the conditioning level after six days of camp, in part because most had skated through the fall. "I'm happy with what we accomplished," he said.
One area that wasn't heavily covered was the penalty-kill and which forwards will be used. "I have an idea, but I think as we go through the first two games, we'll see how they work together,'' Tortorella said.
"We've lost a number of people there," he said, referring to Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, traded to Columbus for Rick Nash, and Brandon Prust, who signed with Montreal. Ryan Callahan is a mainstay and center Jeff Halpern will be one replacement, along with Brian Boyle and perhaps Carl Hagelin.
All the Rangers, including Lundqvist -- who stayed on the ice to face shots after most had left -- are itching to play.
Nash will make his Rangers debut. Said Tortorella: "I talked to him a little after practice. He's ready."
Notes & quotes: The Rangers have won five of the last six here . . . A victory would tie Lundqvist with Gump Worsley for the club record for wins in openers (five) . . . It is the first game of six back-to-backs on the schedule, with the Rangers hosting the Penguins at the Garden Sunday . . . Arron Asham, finishing the last game of his playoff suspension, probably will play Sunday, Tortorella said.