The New York Rangers probably took part in one of their more lackluster performances of the season against the East's worst team, the Ottawa Senators, on Thursday and they still earned a point -- the sixth consecutive game they've been able to do so.
During Saturday's 1 p.m. EST matinee with the Boston Bruins, the Rangers will be afforded no such luxuries and will have to come out with a playoff mentaiity to compete against a team with a 41-22-10 record.
Based purely on wins and losses, the Bruins are playing their worst hockey this month, with "only" five wins, however they've only lost three games in regulation -- plus three in overtime -- this month. Because of stud goaltending from Tim Thomas (31 wins on the year, 2.02 GAA, .938 SV%) and goal scoring from all over the roster (11 players have more than 10 goals), Boston is never out of any game. They have the best goal differential (plus-48) in the East as a result, while the Rangers are tied for the second best (plus-36). This game should be a dandy, so long as New York stays disciplined and their high energy staple of the 2010-2011 season returns.
The Rangers are in striking distance from surpassing sixth-place Montreal -- which has the same amount of games played and is just two points ahead -- but is also vulnerable to falling into eighth place as they are only two points ahead of Buffalo, which has a game in hand. Thus, this is a playoff-type game, on the road, that the Rangers can make a statement in. With the second most road wins in the conference, this would seem to be an opportunity the Rangers can seize.
The Rangers' sniper, Marian Gaborik, has found his scoring touch lately and Henrik Lundqvist has been stellar in net -- and they'll need these two to play big games to stick with the Bruins.
No word yet on who will be scratched; Steven Eminger has been solid on defense since being re-inserted into the lineup so he will probably be back in again ... but there's a possibility a forward (Mats Zuccarello, Wojtek Wolski or Erik Christensen) other than Sean Avery gets scratched.