New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins, 7:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Where To Watch: NBC Sports Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radion, and newyorkrangers.com
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Tonight has the potential to be a very special night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers (50-21-7, 107 pts) host the Boston Bruins (46-28-4, 96 pts) in an Original Six clash of division leaders, could have the chance to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference. Should the Pittsburgh Penguins lose to the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon, the Rangers would take to the ice this evening knowing that a victory would clinch the top spot in the East, and guarantee home ice throughout at least the first three rounds of the playoffs. Despite that possibility the Rangers are more concerned with building upon their recent solid play so that they are at their best heading into the post-season tournament. The Rangers have won four consecutive games, following Friday's 4-1 home-ice win over the Montreal Canadiens; and they have captured victories in six of their last seven matches. Their current winning streak marks the sixth time this season that the Rangers have won at least four games in a row. The power play has come alive for the Blueshirts of late, posting back-to-back games with two power play goals Wednesday and Friday---the first time this season the team has accomplished that feat. Boston has something to play for tonight, as well. A win for Boston and the Bruins would clinch the Northeast Division title, and the second seed in the East. Coming off a 6-3 win on Long Island yesterday the Bruins are 4-0-1 in their previous five games, heading into the final week of the regular season. The Bruins will be without injured power forward Nathan Horton, goalie Tuukka Rask, and defenseman Adam McQuaid. Fellow blueliner Dennis Seidenberg did not play against the Islanders due to infected cut above his knee, and is questionable for tonight.
This is the fourth and final meeting between the Rangers and Bruins this season, with the Blueshirts looking to finish off a sweep of the season series. Dating back to last season the Rangers have beaten the Bruins five straight times; and the Blueshirts have won 9 of their previous 11 games against Boston. The Rangers have outscored the Bruins 10-5 so far this season head-to-head, with Henrik Lundqvist fashioning a 1.61 goals against average against Boston. Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with three goals and four points vs. the Bruins this season.
"There is no doubt we are turning it up for the playoffs. (Sunday) night is a big game for us, and we want to play really well in the last four games we have left. We don't look at the standings---I know we are up there and we want to finish in first place---but we want to take it a game at a time and focus on improving our play."-Marian Gaborik
By The Numbers
Derek Stepan notched a pair of assists on Friday night to reach the 50-point plateau for the first time in his young NHL career. Stepan recorded 45 points as a rookie last year, and has followed up with 17 goals, a career-best 33 assists, and 50 points so far this season.
Stepan is joined by team captain Ryan Callahan (53 points) and defensemen Michael Del Zotto (41) and Ryan McDonagh (30) as Rangers who have already set new career-high point totals this season.
Will the Rangers extend their win streak tonight and finish off a season-series sweep of the Bruins? Share your predictions below.