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NBC Game of the Week: Bruins vs. Rangers Preview

Mar 19, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

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NYBOS.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

With less than four weeks remaining in the season, the
playoff races are starting to heat up. In the West, Detroit is doing it’s
best to hold off Calgary and St. Louis and it’s most likely going to be a
furious finish to see which team can play the hardest down the stretch.
In the East, well… the race will come down to which team can just
barely survive and limp into the playoffs.

The New
York Rangers and the Boston Bruins square off this weekend in a battle
between two teams fighting for one playoff position. The Bruins
currently sit in 8th in the East, one point ahead of Atlanta and three points ahead of New
York. It hasn’t exactly been an easy journey to get to this point, as
both teams fight through late-season letdowns.

A
head-to-head battle can instantly turn the tide in either direction; the
question is which team will actually step up when the spotlight shines
on such an important game.

Someone will have to
step up.

Both teams have had an opportunity the past week to
either build their lead or gain ground in the race, and it’s been
nothing but disappointment at every turn. How is it that when a team has
a great opportunity to really make a move, they come out completely
flat and appear to be completely disinterested in the game they are
playing? Both New York and Boston appear to be lame ducks, each just
finding a way to fail in increasingly boring ways.

This is the time of the season that teams ramp up the intensity and
build momentum for the playoffs, yet the Rangers and Bruins seem to not
grasp the concept of just what a playoff race entails. Perhaps taking on
one another on national television will finally spark some actual
competitiveness in these two teams.

Desperately
seeking a leader.

The Bruins played perhaps the
most disappointing and futile game I’ve ever seen a hockey team play
against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a matchup that many felt would be
intense and full of payback and redemption. Instead, the Bruins barely
mustered any interest or fight in the game (aside from pounding Matt
Cooke in the opening minutes). If this team can’t get motivated for a
‘redemption game’ to avenge their fallen teammate, I’m not convinced
they can get motivated for any game.

It’s the same
story with New York, although this time the lack of leadership seems to
be actually be influenced by the head coach. John Tortorella is intent
on squashing any sort of opinion and personality coming out his locker
room, and it’s showing on the ice. This is a team devoid of leadership
and the only player that has any sort of skill in sparking his teammates
is Sean Avery, someone who the coach would rather just go away. Who
will step up?

The Atlanta Thrashers are poised to
race by these two teams, as they tread water and slowly drown themselves
in mediocrity. I’m not convinced either team even deserves to make the
playoffs. Sunday’s game is the most important game of the year for both
teams; a win by the Rangers and the Bruins may never recover and hold
them off, and two points by Boston builds a lead the Rangers most likely
never overcome.

NBC
Star Cam -
Head
on over to NBC Sports

during the game to follow your favorite stars through out the game.

Sunday
on Pro Hockey Talk:

Can the Boston Bruins survive in the playoffs, or even it make it there,
with the NHL’s worst offense?
What is the identity of the New York Rangers, as they fight for a
playoff spot?
A breakdown of the playoff races for both conferences.
Injury updates for both teams.
News and opinion from around NBC Sports.
A live in-game chat with
Brandon Worley and James O’Brien.

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