The New York Rangers have only lost two times in nine games since they played the Boston Bruins at the end of January, extending their Eastern Conference lead to seven points (77 to 70)over their rivals. Even though Boston has played .500 hockey (4-4-1) -- including their 3-2 overtime loss to New York -- the Bruins pose a very tough test at home for the Rangers on Tuesday night (7:00 p.m. EST, MSG)
The last times these two teams met, four goals were scored in the second period. The Rangers grabbed the lead twice, but ultimately needed Marian Gaborik's heroics with 3.6 seconds left to give them the victory. Tuesday, they'll be looking for their fourth win in a row and continued focus on the details of the game that has allowed them to be so successful.
Boston is coming off a 4-3 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators, but has run into inconsistent play lately: Of their three games prior to that, they scored five goals (four coming in one game). That being said, they still have the most potent offense in the league, led by Patrice Bergeron's 47 points. Six players have 37 points or more. Expect the Brandon Prust-Brian Boyle-Brandon Dubinsky line to be out there as much as possible against the Brad Marchand-Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line. Beyond the scoring, Boston has an elite netminder who can easily cover up mistakes in Tim Thomas. Thomas has a 2.18 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
New York will continue to hope Brad Richards finds his game. He's looked excellent over his past five or so. Artem Anisimov has also been stellar over his past five -- the Rangers need contributions from players who started slowly (like him and Dubinsky, who has six goals) to really kick them into another gear. The power play is another key element. It didn't score Sunday, but had three against Philadelphia on Saturday. It's looked much more fluid and dangerous over the past few games. Boston has the No. 7 penalty kill.