|Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers||01.22.13 at 2:25 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the 48-game schedule came out following the lockout, one of the most interesting aspects of it throughout the league was that the Bruins and Rangers would play each other twice in the first three games. That meant that in a season that placed even greater emphasis than usual on strong starts, one of the best teams in the NHL could easily end up in an early season hole.
As it turns out, the Rangers face that prospect. The schedule-makers weren’t kind to John Tortorella‘s club early on, as the Rangers had to face the high-powered Penguins the day after opening the season in Boston. The results haven’t been good, as the Eastern Conference favorites followed Saturday’s loss to the B’s by dropping a 6-3 contest to the Penguins in their home-opener. Now, the team will need to beat the 2-0-0 Bruins to avoid starting the season winless through three games.
“You know that they’re going to be ready for that game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Tuesday’s practice. “Also, we beat them the first game, so you know they’re going to look for some revenge probably, so it’s going to be a tough one. We’re expecting the best out of them, and we need to make sure we bring our best game as well.”
It’s hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but the value of two points is inflated in a 48-game season, and the Rangers have some stiff competition in their division (Penguins, Flyers) for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The desperation should be there at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins will need to be ready for it.
“I don’t think [they'll come out harder]; I know they will,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly, when you’re put in that position and you’re the type of team that they are, we expect nothing but their best game out of them tomorrow.”
The Bruins welcome the test that will come with playing a desperate team. David Krejci even likened Wednesday’s game to a postseason contest in which a team trailing in the series makes a push to narrow the gap.
“I know there’s been lots of talk. They made some moves, they want to go deep in the playoffs so I’m pretty sure that’s not the start they wanted to have,” Krejci said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We might be in the situation during the season or in the playoffs, that the team wants to come back and we have to show how to handle the situation. It’s a good challenge for us tomorrow and we’ll so how we can respond, but I’m sure we’re going to be ready for it.”
The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Bruins last season, so the B’s have already matched their 2011-12 win total against Tortorella’s club. The games between the two teams were tight (three of their four matches were one-goal games, including one decided in overtime), so the Bruins aren’t expecting anything to come easy against them.
“I’m sure Nash will buy into their system and has,” Chris Kelly said. “They’re a hard-working team and that’s the way they’re coached. They play hard, they play everyone and everyone contributes. They had our number last year, and we came out and played hard in the opener.”
|Claude Julien on Rangers: ‘Let’s go at it’||01.19.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
For the most part, the Bruins have a relatively easy schedule for the first third or so of the season. They’ll only face two teams that made the playoffs last season in their first 15 games, but one of them is the Rangers, and they’ll face them three times.
To narrow it down even more, the Bruins will face the Rangers twice in their first three games of the 48-game season. The B’s and Rangers are two popular favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference this season, as the B’s no longer have the Stanley Cup hangover excuse, while the Rangers have added six-time 30-goal-scorer Rick Nash to a roster that grabbed the top seed in the East last season.
That means both teams will have a couple of big tests right off the bat, and could easily begin the season with two early losses if they aren’t sharp enough. Claude Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate that he embraces the challenge.
“I don't know if I feel more weight; I think I like that opportunity,” Julien said. “I really do. I'd rather play one of the best teams in the conference than not. And right now let's go at it. Like I said, we're both at the same stage where we've had six days of training camp. Let's go at it. You know, we go at it again on Wednesday. So there's no issue from my end of it, and as I've always said you control what you can and control your team and the schedule is made and then you go with it.”
Tuukka Rask, who will get the nod in net for the B’s Saturday, said that he expects the Rangers to be a difficult opponent with the addition of Nash, but that he expects every game to be a challenge.
“You know what? It doesn’t matter who you play against in this league,” he said. “Every team has good players, and everybody knows they added him during the offseason. They’ve got some power up front, so we’ve just got to be aware of that and get ready.”
|Rick Nash headed to Rangers, so that Bruins thing isn’t happening||07.23.12 at 3:14 pm ET|
One common solution to many Bruins fans’ problems has been for them to trade for Rick Nash. Their reported interest in the star winger has popped up multiple times over the last year, and while such a scenario never seemed likely, it definitely isn’t happening now.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Rangers and Blue Jackets have agreed to a deal that will send the seven-time 30-goal-scorer to New York. Headed to Columbus for the 2002 first overall pick will be forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky as well as defenseman prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.
While the Rangers have to take on six more years of a $7.8 million salary cap hit with the 28-year-old, it sure looks like New York got the better of the deal. The Rangers didn’t have to touch their core, and while Dubinsky (26) and Anisimov (24) might have their best years ahead of them, they have two 20-goal campaigns between them in eight combined seasons between them. Nash has scored 40 goals twice in nine seasons.
Also, when looking at the haul that the Blue Jackets got, it’s pretty clear the B’s could have easily gotten Nash if they really wanted him. Any one of Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin or Tuukka Rask is a better piece than any of the players New York gave up.
|Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘I totally understand’ Habs fans’ cheering of Zdeno Chara’s injury||02.17.12 at 11:48 am ET|