Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Weekend Preview - Part I

Game #50 Preview
(1) Boston Bruins: 35-8-6
(4) New York Rangers: 29-17-4

Saturday, January 31, 2009 @ 1 pm
Home Arena: TD Banknorth Garden
Season Series: Rangers lead 1-0
TV Broadcasts: NESN (HD), MSG (HD)

Boston Injuries

(G) Manny Fernandez: Day-To-Day
(C/W) Petteri Nokelainen: Day-To-Day
(LW) Marco Sturm: Out For Season

New York Injuries

None to Report

Who's Hot For the Bruins?

(D) Dennis Wideman -- 4 points in last four games, top plus/minus rating in the league at +28
(C) David Krejci -- 12 points in last nine games,

Who's Hot For the Rangers?

(C) Scott Gomez -- 2 goals, 3 assists in last three games
(LW/RW) Markus Nasland -- 5 points in last three games

The Buff's Three Keys to the Game

1.) Expose a Slumping Lundqvist

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist can't seem to shake off iffy numbers in recent games.

The Swedish 'tender boasts 41 starts this season, the fourth most in the entire league. He's posted a respectable 24-14-3 record topped off with a .911 save percentage.

But his numbers haven't been stellar as of late. He's only won a single game in his last three starts, battling a lackluster 3.67 goals against average in those matches. His losses include an embarrassing six-goal performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

Boston needs to take advantage of Lundqvist's slump before he decides to pick up his game. An early goal or two will likely deflate his confidence.

2.) Stay Out of the Sin Bin

When it comes to the power play, the Rags aren't ones to brag. The club ranks 27th on the man advantage this year, potting only 32 goals on 215 chances.

But that doesn't mean the B's can afford to take penalties. Boston averages 13 penalty minutes a game, eighth highest in the league. And thanks to a poor special teams performance this week, the Bruins penalty kill dropped to ninth overall.

Keep the sticks down. No hooking calls. No high-sticking offenses. Only fighting majors to stir up the bench.
Which transitions smoothly into my next point...

3.) Move, Move, Move. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot. On the Power Play.

Boston's power play hasn't been up to snuff this week. The B's went 0-6 on the man advantage in Tuesday's game against the Caps -- a team with a PK ranking in the bottom half of the league.

But New York is a whole different beast to wrestle with. The Rangers have penalty killing techniques down to a science, boasting the top PK unit in the NHL. Their PK percentage is top-notch on the road at 87.8 percent with only 13 goals against.

The Bruins can't stand ignore those numbers coming into tomorrow's game. No more standing around like statues. No more lazily drifting to the corner in an attempt to retrieve the puck.
Boston's recipe for power play success: Aggressive on the rush, aggressive on the backcheck, and aggressive along the boards. All complimented with dabs of crsip passing and clear shooting to the net.

Fact of the Game

Marc Savard is no stranger to the New York Rangers. The All-Star began his NHL career with the Rags in the 1997-1998 season.

New York picked Savard in the fourth round, 91st overall, of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He played 25 games with the club in his rookie season, notching his first goal early in the year against the New York Islanders.

Savvy went on to score 10 goals and 41 assists in his 98 games with the Rangers. He also saw some time with the Hartford Wolfpack, New York's AHL affiliate.

But his career with the Rangers ended in 1999. New York traded Savard and a 1st round draft pick to Calgary for a 1st round pick, a 3rd round pick, and negotiating rights with Jan Hlavac.

Since the trade, Savard has put up admirable numbers against his former team. The center holds 21 points in his 20 games against the Rangers.


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