Back on the Ice: Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers Preview

Bruins Back On the Ice: The Boston Bruins open up what’s left of a 48-game regular season against the New York Rangers at 7pm in TD Garden tomorrow (Saturday Jan 19th). The Bruins vs. Rangers contest is one of 13 games on tap for tomorrow, with 6 more games on Sunday for a weekend full of hockey.

Tale of the Tape: According to the Associated Press, both the Bruins and the Rangers are potential Stanley Cup favorites entering this season. Here’s a breakdown of both teams:

Rangers: The New York Rangers enter this season with Stanely Cup hopes as they nearly missed the big game last year with a conference finals loss to their rivals the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers made an offseason addition to their roster, as they landed former Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash via trade.

Nash brings even more scoring power to an already potent mix, with Ranger forwards Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. With the Blue Jackets Nash racked up 289 goals and 547 points in 674 games with a pair 40 goal seasons as well as 5 30+ goal seasons, according to the AP.

Then there’s the goal play of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who only allowed 1.97 goals averaged against him in 62 regular games last season. Lundqvist also posted an even more microscopic 1.82 GAA in the post-season for New York. Couple that with Nash, Gaboric, plus Richards, and the Rangers could be as good as advertised.

Bruins: The Bruins will be looking to win their second Stanley Cup Finals trophy in 3 seasons and they’ll have to try and do it without usual goalie Tim Thomas. Thomas you may remember was one of the keys to the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup triumph. Thomas decided to take this shortened season off and spend time with his family.

That puts Tuukka Rask in front of the net for Boston. Rask has promise as he posted a 2.05 GAA in 25 games backing up Thomas last season. Also, Rask posted a 1.97 GAA in a 45 game span back in 2010 when Thomas was injured. The Bruins will hope Rask can put up similar numbers in this 48-game regular season.

Aside from losing Thomas, the Bruins have most of  last year’s crew back. This includes Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, and Milan Lucic. All of whom signed multi-year contract deals with Boston before the lockout began.

The Bruins will be looking to bounce back to Stanley Cup form this year, after a first round Game 7 playoff loss to Washington last year.

Brian Boyle Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins tries to keep the puck as Brian Boyle #22 of the New York Rangers defends on February 14, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The New York Rangers defeated the Boston Bruins 3-0.

My Prediction: With this being the first game of a shortened season, it’s hard to say how any team will do. Nevertheless, I will take a shot in the dark and say the Bruins win 2-1 over the Rangers.

However, the Bruins may have a tough time scoring against the Rangers Lundqvist, as he boasts a pair of shutouts in his last 3 trips to Bean-town and a nasty 1.53 GAA in 27 games against the Bruins.

Despite the numbers, I give Boston the edge as the Bruins had 9 players who found work in Europe during the lockout. So, I’ll take experience over stats in this one.

Where to Watch: As a reminder the Bruins vs. Rangers game begins at 7pm tomorrow evening (Saturday January 19th) in the TD Garden and can be viewed on NHLN (NHLNetwork). If you’re going to the game, remember to cheer, drink, and act responsibly.

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