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NHL on NBC: Rangers and Bruins battle as beasts of the East

Mar 3, 2012, 10:28 PM EST

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers Getty Images

When the Boston Bruins head into Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), they do so looking to catch up in the race for the Eastern Conference crown.

The Bruins come in with Tuukka Rask on the injured list after suffering an apparent leg injury in Saturday’s loss to the Islanders. Rask joins Rich Peverley (knee) and Nathan Horton (concussion) on the shelf. Compounding matters? The Bruins haven’t won two in a row since early January.

On Sunday, they’ll be hoping to serve notice they’re not quite out of the running for first in the East. (The Rangers lead the Bruins by 10 points)

With Tim Thomas leading the way in goal, Boston generally doesn’t have too many worries between the pipes. Keeping up on defense and scoring enough goals has been their bugaboo of late, however, as guys like Tyler Seguin, David Krejci (who both looked sharp beating New Jersey) and Patrice Bergeron could stand to let their presence be felt more on the score sheet. Same goes for Milan Lucic as well.

On defense, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg would be wise to get their Stanley Cup finals form back from last season, though the blueline received a boost on Saturday as Johnny Boychuk (concussion) rejoined the lineup after getting steamrolled by Ottawa’s Chris Neil last week.

The Rangers enter Sunday with injury worries of their own. Ryan Callahan missed last game against Tampa Bay (as did defenseman Michael Del Zotto) while Ruslan Fedotenko and Dan Girardi are banged up — that said, the quartet got a day off Saturday to rest in advance of the Bruins game. Formerly oft-injured forward Marian Gaborik is having a monstrous (and healthy) season, scoring 31 goals while leading all Rangers in points.

Even with a slew of injuries throughout the lineup, the Ranger can always rest easy knowing Henrik Lundqvist is in goal. He’s been one of, if not the, league’s best goalies this season and isn’t just in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy — he’s in there for the Hart as well. A showdown between Lundqvist and Thomas could mean goal scoring is kept to a minimum, but the game won’t lack in mind-blowing saves and skill in net.

Keeping it close: According to the Rangers, 15 of the last 19 meetings between the Rangers and Bruins have been decided by one goal, including six games that required extra time and five that went to the shootout, dating back to March 24, 2007. Considering that Lundqvist has made 22 straight starts against the Bruins, it’s no wonder every game has been close.

  1. anthonykornheiser - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Beasts of the east? Get real. Boston is a 4th or 5th place team in the Atlantic. By mid week that whole division will have more pts than them….aside from the isles.

    • stain67 - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      If Boston can get healthy by the playoffs…NY may be the only team in the east that can beat Boston in a seven game series. Even without Horton and Peverly the Bs will be tough to beat in a seven game series.

  2. blomfeld - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    BEASTS OF THE EAST ?

    Yeah right … try like a couple of hamsters fighting in their cage over the water bottle ! The fact of the matter is, that the Vancouver Canucks are “the” team to beat ! … no two ways about it … and that’s why we LA Kings have “them” targeted in our cross hairs and not these “ersatz” pretenders like the Bruins and Rangers …

    • brian32556 - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      Vancouver couldn’t even beat Buffalo, who are what like 12th in the east!?

  3. sk1rmish - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    How are the rangers not one of the teams to beat? Look at the numbers idiot

  4. 8man - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    The Bruins aren’t catching the Rangers. But they need to win that division and it starts by getting points and keeping a tough Ottawa team in the rear view mirror. The B’s are banged up and apparently, getting more so. It’s tough to repeat.

    • jimeejohnson - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      That 1-0 loss to the Senators was tough for the Bruins. I think they have as good a chance as any team thanks mostly to the amazing goaltending of Tim Thomas. He may be a political nutjob but he is a spectacular, clutch goalie.

      • blomfeld - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:06 PM

        “but he is a spectacular, clutch goalie” …

        that friend isn’t so much a viewpoint, as it is a statement of fact … Tim Thomas is a bloody good goaltender ! … in contrast, you do have to empathize with the Canuckle “tire pumper” eh ? … the guy is going to earn $9,000,000.00 this year and he gets chased last night after only a few minutes worked ? … man o man …

        ps Canuckleheads: save your retorts about Bobby Loo’s “cap hit” only equating to about $ 5 mil per year, etc … they may as well have given him a 1000 year contract and made his cap hit only $50.00 per !

      • 8man - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        They are a little snakebit. They are putting up good numbers but can’t seem to get wins. At some point, the haze will lift and away they go.

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