The New York Rangers have battled back to the .500 mark after a discouraging start to the season and look to extend their winning streak to five while continuing to dominate the visiting Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. The Rangers own points in eight of their last 10 games (6-2-2) after rallying for a 5-3 victory over Columbus on Monday and have beaten the Bruins five straight times, allowing only eight goals in the process.
“Even when we were losing, we were in games - right there to go after the win - and we didn’t have the confidence to do that,” New York defenseman Marc Staal told the New York Post. “I think this last stretch, we’ve found ways to make plays to win them. That’s the biggest difference.” The Rangers have also perked up on offense with 27 goals in six games and an improved power play as they prepare to take on the Bruins, who have points in seven of eight (4-1-3) despite missing several key players with injuries and illness. Boston knocked off Minnesota 5-3 on Monday without All-Star Brad Marchand (upper-body), who is not expected to play Wednesday. “You’re starting to see the personality of our hockey club that we’re not gonna be an easy out,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters. “We are going to work hard.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
ABOUT THE BRUINS (6-4-3): Marchand, who shares the team lead at 14 points with David Pastrnak, did not travel to New York but could potentially meet the team for the game in Toronto on Friday. Anders Bjork joined Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron on the top line against Minnesota while center David Krejci (six points, six games) was placed on injured reserve after missing seven games with a back injury. Captain Zdeno Chara had two assists Monday and fellow defenseman Torey Krug has raised his game of late with six points in the last four games to push his total to eight on the season.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (7-7-2): One of the big reasons for the turnaround has been special teams as New York is 8-for-8 on the kill in the last four games and converted 7-of-19 power play opportunities in the past five outings. “It makes a big difference when you have success on the power play,” Staal told reporters. “When you win the special teams game, you are going to come out on top a lot of the time.” Mika Zibanejad had three assists Monday and leads the team with 17 points while defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk boasts three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak.
1. Boston G Tuukka Rask, who owns a .923 save percentage in 20 career games against the Rangers, is 0-2-1 on the road in 2017-18.
2. New York RW Michael Grabner owns six goals in his last six games after scoring only once in the first 10.
3. The Bruins have killed off all 13 power-play opportunities over the last five contests.
PREDICTION: Rangers 4, Bruins 3