Linesman Scott Cherrey (50) separates New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) and Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during a fight in the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

               After suffering a tough 2-0 defeat to the New York Islanders, the Rangers will look to regain momentum as they host the division-leading Boston Bruins (7:00 P.M. ET, NBCSN).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Bruins
8thEast Ranking1st

               The rebuild for the Rangers is getting closer and closer to reaching its conclusion. And despite suffering a 2-0 defeat to the New York Islanders on Monday night, Rangers fans have a lot to be encouraged about. Last year, the Rangers allowed the second-most goals against per game. Thus far through eleven games, the Blueshirts have allowed the 9th fewest goals per game – which is 21 positions better than they were at. Now with the addition of K’Andre Miller, the Blueshirts have two reliable defensive pairs as opposed to just the one last season. There are a lot of factors leading to the major improvement but whether that be the players, the coaching staff, or a new system – the defense is showing promise and it’s another step in the rebuild. If the Rangers can continue some strong defensive play – the team will be ready to contend sooner rather than later.

               Not many believe that the Rangers would struggle for goals this season, but that appears to be the biggest struggle thus far. Two of the biggest culprits appear to be Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider who have gotten off to slow starts. Zibanejad had over 40 goals last season but has just one through eleven games this season. Meanwhile, his linemate Kreider has just four points all season (four goals). With first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and 2019’s second overall pick Kaapo Kakko still adjusting and learning to play in the NHL, the Blueshirts are going to need the top line to figure it out ASAP. This also includes the power-play which is running at under 14% percent. Last season, the Rangers power-play was operating at nearly 23%.

               Creating offense won’t be any easier Wednesday night as they prepare to face a surging Bruins side. Boston currently is tied for the second-best goals against per game and they have the second-best penalty kill in the league – both stats good for first in the East. They’ve lost just one time in regulation through eleven games and appear to be a lock for a playoff spot. And to make life tougher for the Rangers, David Pastrnak has returned from offseason hip surgery and will play in his fifth game of the year. With his return, Boston has been able to reunite the “Perfection Line” and they have been on a tear. Since Pastrnak has returned, he has recorded eight points (five goals), and his linemates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each have 15 points in eleven games. This will be a serious test over the next two games to see how well the Rangers defense can handle the “Perfection Line” – a line which many consider the best in the league.

               Looking to slow down the Bruins’ top line will be birthday boy Alex Georgiev. The last time Georgiev played on his birthday, he turned 23 and he made 55 saves against the Toronto Maple Leafs for the best game of his career. The Rangers will be hoping the birthday magic carries over into Monday night. The now 25-year-old’s last game came against the Penguins where emotions took over after the game and an incident occurred with Tony DeAngelo.

               Across the way, the Bruins have two good goalies, both of which the Rangers will likely see once in the two-game set. Starter Tuukka Rask is expected to get the first game having not played since February 5th. They also have Jaroslav Halak who has had many great games against the Rangers over the course of his career.

               One pairing to keep a particular eye on throughout the game is Rangers defender Ryan Lindgren and Bruins agitator Marchand. These two got in each other’s faces last season and don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. The former Bruins prospect Lindgren appeared to get under Marchand’s skin which he addressed in a post-game interview.

               “He is not going to be a player there that’s going to have a very long career,” Marchand said on Lindgren. “I’m not overly concerned with him.”

               And yet here is Lindgren who is turning out to be a key piece of the future. The 22-year-old has now played over 20 minutes in each of the past four games. It will be worth keeping an eye on to see if these two players continue their feud from last year.

               The Rangers are not expected to get anyone back from injury and will likely play the same lineup as the previous couple of games.

Projected Lineup



Lafreniere-Howden-Di Giuseppe