Rangers and Bruins ready for their Thanksgiving Showdown
Coming off big wins before Thanksgiving, the visiting New York Rangers and Boston Bruins will look to skate off the extra calories and stay on a roll as they take the ice for a traditional Black Friday matinee.
This will be the eighth time in the last nine seasons where the Blueshirts will play the day after Thanksgiving. As for the “Thanksgiving Showdown” which is the NH’s matinee game, it’s the seventh time in the last nine seasons the Rangers will be featured.
Seven of the eight games came against the Flyers or Bruins all on the road (3-3-1). The other contest was a 2-1 OT win against the Red Wings at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers rolling into Boston
New York throttled the rival Islanders 4-1 on Wednesday in their first meeting at newly built UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.
Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice, and Igor Shesterkin made 20 saves to send the Rangers to their second straight win and sixth in seven games.
“I think there was a lot of energy in the building. It can be like that in a lot of the Islanders-Rangers games where it’s kind of a feeling out process,” Kreider said. “Just worry about what we do, that’s what we talked about.”
Indeed, the Rangers did what they’ve done best of late: score plenty of goals.
Kreider scored 29 seconds in and Rooney made it 2-0 midway through the first period. After Shesterkin gave up a goal 3:52 into the third, Rooney scored 20 seconds later and Kreider capped the scoring nearly seven minutes later.
Rangers starting to play better
Before Wednesday’s game, the Rangers scored five times — including Ryan Lindgren’s winner with one second remaining in regulation — in a narrow one-goal victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
New York has scored four of more goals in five times during its seven-game run of success.
“We weren’t happy with our first 10 games, even though we had a good record,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “I think we’ve played better since then and it’s coming together.”
Shesterkin has been in net for seven of the team’s last eight games and has made 15 of 19 possible starts this season. The 25-year-old is 10-3-2 with a .932 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average on the season.
Backup netminder Alexandar Georgiev last played Nov. 14 and is 2-1-1 with a .858 save percentage and a 4.08 goals-against average. New York has not announced its starter for Friday’s game. Although Shesterkin was the first goalie off for practice yesterday which is a good indication of who will get the nod.
“I don’t care who scores the goals,” Gallant said yesterday.”Just play the game the right way and good things will happen for you.”
Bruins will be a test
Boston had planned to start goalie Linus Ullmark in net on Friday, but the veteran was a late scratch with a minor injury ahead of Wednesday’s game in Buffalo.
“Hopefully a day off the ice and he’ll be good to go in his next start,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of Ullmark.
Instead, the Bruins will go with rookie Jeremy Swayman in net against the Rangers. On Wednesday, Swayman faced just 25 shots and stopped 24 as Boston scored four times in the opening period to down the Sabres 5-1.
The win was the Bruins’ fourth in five games following a 6-5-0 start.
“I try to keep my preparation the same every game, whether I’m playing or not,” Swayman said. “It wasn’t too much of a transition for me when I did get that call.”
Swayman allowed a Kyle Okposo goal midway through the first before Patrice Bergeron equalized nearly three minutes later. Charlie Coyle made it 2-1 in the next minute before goals from David Pastrnak and Mike Reilly broke it open.
It was a bounce-back effort for the 23-year-old goalie after suffering his first career home loss in a 4-0 blanking by Calgary last Sunday. Swayman dropped to 8-1-0 with a .934 save percentage and a 1.54 goals-against average in nine home starts.
On the season, Swayman is 6-3-0 with a .914 save percentage while allowing 2.23 goals per game.
The Bruins won five of their eight games against the Rangers last season.
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–Field Level Media contributed to this report