Greetings from Boston. Both Rangers and Bruins holding morning skates, and you'll read all about 'em right here and on Twitter (@stevezipay)....Here's my preview from today's paper:
A few weeks ago, when the Rangers beat the Bruins 3-2 here on Marian Gaborik’s overtime goal, the sense was that the showdown for first place in the Eastern Conference would be revisited on Tuesday. Gaborik’s second goal of the game gave the Blueshirts a two-point lead over the Bruins, but since then, the gap has widened to seven points.
The Rangers (36-13-5, 77 points) have won three in a row and are 7-2-1 in the last 10. The Bruins (34-17-2, 70 points) are 5-4-1 in the last 10.
Henrik Lundqvist was in goal for that 3-2 victory, and it is expected that he will start at TD Garden. Lundqvist has won four of his last five games, and allowed just seven goals.Tim Thomas, who has since triggered controversy by skipping the defending Stanley Cup champs' White House visit on Jan. 23 and posting some political opinions on Facebook but declining to discuss them, could get the nod in goal for the Bruins. With Thomas in net, the Bruins edged Nashville, 4-3, in a shootout here on Saturday. Tuukka Rask took the loss on Jan. 21.
The seven-point spread in the standings won’t change the Rangers approach, Lundqvist said. “It doesn’t matter where we are. They’re a good team and the last (game) was a good one.”
Brandon Prust, whose shorthanded goal was the game-winner on Sunday against the Capitals, expects the Bruins to battle. “When you win a couple of big games, and we’ve been rolling pretty good, it’s always good momentum,” he said. “But it’s a whole new start going up against one of the best teams in the league.”
The Rangers, 2nd in the NHL in points, just one behind Detroit, could see Ruslan Fedotenko return to the lineup. The winger, who has been sidelined since a high hit from Tampa’s Dominic Moore in the third period on Thursday, made the flight yesterday with the team. Defenseman Stu Bickel had been skating on the fourth line, but if Fedotenko participates in the morning skate and is cleared to play, it’s likely that Bickel will be a healthy scratch.
With two points in regulation, the Rangers would open a nine-point lead over the Bruins and a 10-point bulge over the idle Flyers. A loss tightens things up. But the title hunt is far from over: The two teams face each other twice more; the Bruins visit the Garden on March 4 and April 1.