BOSTON -- The Bruins (34-17-2, 70 points) welcome the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers (36-13-5, 77 points) to TD Garden on Tuesday night in a battle for conference supremacy.
The last time the teams met (Jan. 21) the Rangers beat the Bruins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Marian Gaborik with three seconds left in overtime. Despite the loss, the Bruins played one of their better games of the season that day, and they know one of the main reasons they couldn’t beat New York was because of its stingy team defense and ability to shut down lanes and block shots. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was stellar, turning aside 32 shots, but there were 22 blocked shots by Lundqvist's teammates.
For the Bruins to have better results on Tuesday, they need to find a way to open up lanes to the net.
“You've got to be quick and have quick releases,” winger Milan Lucic said. “Don’t let them get in that angle where they can have that chance to block the shot and just create space around them. You need to fight and find your way to the dirty areas and get those second chances. They make it very hard to do that and there aren’t many holes, so it’s up to us to work as hard as we can to do that.”
Winger Brad Marchand concurred.
“They’re very tight defensively and they don’t give up a lot,” Marchand said. “They block a lot of shots, so we need to find a way to get pucks and bodies to the net and get some goals. You have to try to get them off as quick as you can and not give the opponents time to get in the lane. Sometimes you have to shoot wide and shoot off guys' sticks or shoot off the end boards and try to get the puck around or close to the net.”
The Bruins also must be careful not to focus too much on adapting to the way the Rangers play. As coach Claude Julien pointed out, the Bruins know how the Rangers play and realize the significance of this game. But they need to play their game and worry more about doing what helps them win.
“I think everybody knows who they are and how good they are and what they represent," Julien said. "We’re a team that likes to put the focus on ourselves more than who we’re playing and how good they’re playing. We need to look at ourselves because that’s what’s given us the most success in all the years I’ve been here.
"I think we've got to do the same thing here against the Rangers. We understand what their strengths are and everything else, and then you kind of bring that to the attention of our team. But nonetheless it’s really how good and how hard are we going to be able to execute.”