BOSTON -- For all the talk that it could be the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, there’s also a strong possibility the Bruins could face the New York Rangers.
The Bruins currently hold the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Rangers are battling for the sixth seed with the Canadiens. After Boston dismantled Montreal 7-0 Thursday night at TD Garden, New York gave the Bruins a tougher time Saturday afternoon behind the solid goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers’ Derek Stepan netted the lone goal as New York posted a 1-0 margin of victory over Boston. Lundqvist, playing in 400th career game, recorded his league-leading 11th shutout of the season. He made 26 saves.
It was the sixth time this season the Bruins were shutout, and the fifth on home ice, but the first with Tuukka Rask between the pipes. Rask played well and made 22 saves.
The Bruins and Rangers are similar teams and play a comparable style. Both clubs are big, physical and gritty and Saturday’s result was an indication of how a playoff series would be between Boston and New York.
“They’re a big team. They’re a hard-working team, they’re a grinding team,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien prior to Saturday’s game. “They play with a lot of passion and I think it makes for some interesting match-ups. They’ve got a great goaltender that keeps them in every game. So it should make for an interesting match-up with us all the time.”
Thomas gets day off: After posting his eighth shutout of the season in a 24-save performance over the Canadiens on Thursday night at the Garden, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was given Saturday off. Julien has said that he wants to keep Thomas fresh for the playoffs, but at the same time, the coach wants to keep Rask sharp, too.
Scratches: Forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Steven Kampfer were both healthy scratches against the Rangers on Saturday.
Up next: The Bruins completed a three-game homestand and there’s no time to rest as Boston travels to Philadelphia to face the Flyers Sunday night. Philadelphia is currently the top team in the Eastern Conference.