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Preview; Bruins host Rangers in matinee game

March 26, 2011

After a much-hyped game against bitter rivals ended with a 7-0 win over the Canadiens the Bruins will face another playoff-worthy rival when they host the Rangers in a matinee game. The win over the Canadiens makes it very unlikely that the Bruins will be overtaken in the Northeast so the team will look to put together a run and take the second seed. If so, they would likely play the Rangers in the first round. The Rangers sit in seventh place and are in great shape to make the playoffs. If they go on a little run they could move up to sixth, if they skid they could go down to eighth.

The Bruins are coming off of a 7-0 thrashing of the Canadiens which seemed to answer a lot of questions about the teams focus. The win was important both in the standings and for confidence going into the playoffs. The Habs had dominated the season series but a crushing defeat may have them wondering if the teams do in fact meet in the first round.

The Rangers have been hot of late, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 to secure a playoff spot late in the season. The Rangers offense has been clicking better than at any point in the season, taking some pressure off of Henrik Lundqvist. In their last six wins they have scored 28 goals. The game is the Rangers fourth this week so fatigue may be a factor, especially in a day game.

A big key to the Rangers success has been their reinvented power-play. The Rangers acquired Brian McCabe at the trade deadline, and like Tomas Kaberle, he has improved the power-play immensely. The Rangers power-play is clicking around 25% since the trade deadline. A healthy Marian Gaborik has also helped the team lately.

It’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod for the Bruins. Tim Thomas is coming off of a shutout Thursday night but Tuukka Rask has a good track record against the Rangers. Julien almost always starts a goalie after a shutout so let’s assume it’ll be Thomas. Also assume that it’ll be Lundqvist for the Rangers because 7/8 times you’ll be right.

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