The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are set to do battle for the second time in three days. The Blueshirts earned a point after an overtime defeat on Wednesday, but they can still “win” the two-game set with a regulation time win in game two (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG+).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Bruins
6thEast Ranking1st

               While the Rangers offense continues to search for their game, the Rangers defense has taken a big step forward and it showed on Wednesday night against the Bruins. After three periods of play, the Rangers and Bruins were tied at two and the defense could only be faulted for one of the two goals. Through 60 minutes, Boston’s “Perfection Line”, had zero points. What many consider the best line in the NHL, was completely shutdown before three-on-three overtime. It’s also worth noting that the Rangers have the second-best penalty-kill in the East and eighth in the league. One final stat worth comparing to last season is the shots against. The Blueshirts are currently ninth in terms of fewest shots allowed per game and they were second-worst last season.

               With the defense playing some really good hockey, the offense has struggled mightily. And if a struggling offense playing against the East’s top defense wasn’t already going to be a challenge, the Blueshirts will be without their top offensive player Artemi Panarin. Panarin suffered a lower-body injury and only took three shifts in the third period on Wednesday night. According to head coach David Quinn, Panarin is currently “day-to-day.”

               With Panarin not available, the Blueshirts will really need Mika Zibanejad to get out of his slump. In the first game against the Bruins, Zibanejad created a lot of scoring chances but ultimately didn’t record a point.

               “I felt like my own self today,” Zibanejad said after the game.

               “By far the best game he had all year,” said Quinn on Zibanejad following Wednesday’s night game.

               Alexis Lafreniere has struggled out of the gate, but like Zibanejad, the Blueshirts will hope he can pick up some of the offense in Panarin’s absence. Lafreniere will join Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko on the second line. This marks just the second time the 2019 second-overall pick Kakko and the 2020 first-overall pick Lafreniere will skate on the same line. Lafreniere will also take Panarin’s spot on the top power-play unit.

               Panarin may be out, but the Rangers will welcome the return of Colin Blackwell. Blackwell was out for the past week with a lower-body injury. Blackwell was playing on the second line prior to the injury and is expected to return to the bottom-six.

               The Blueshirts will likely go back to Igor Shesterkin in goal. Shesterkin has won three of his past four starts and has allowed just seven goals in that span.

               Former New York Islander goaltender Jaroslav Halak will get the start for the Bruins. Halak has had a lot of success against the Rangers in his career and he is entering the game playing some very good hockey. Like Shesterkin, Halak has won three of his four starts and he also has allowed just seven goals.

               A win against the Bruins on Friday night would go a long way. The Blueshirts next three games are against the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils. Both teams are currently dealing with COVID-19 issues and the first game on Saturday night against the Flyers has already been postponed. With the other two games in jeopardy, the Rangers’ next game may not be until next Saturday against the Capitals. Also, with a win, the Rangers would be tied for the final playoff spot in the East.

Projected Lineup



Blackwell-Howden-Di Giuseppe