Rangers face Bruins for another Saturday night Original Six showdown

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, the New York Rangers rocked their new alternate jerseys and rebounded from a recent loss by dismantling the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden by a score of 5-1. Ultimately, the win gave the Rangers (20-7-1) the top spot in the Eastern Conference for less than an hour, as about 20 miles east of the city, the Boston Bruins would eventually edge the New Islanders in a shootout to reclaim their spot at the top by a single point, 42-41.

Interestingly, these two teams are set to clash again on Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston with first place on the line yet again. In case anyone forgot what happened during their first meeting on Nov. 25, 2023, the Rangers exposed several flaws in the Bruins game with a 7-4 defeat.

Furthermore, after each team began the season with impressive starts, New York is just 5-4-0 since that encounter and has a goal differential of minus-6 (28-34) while scoring nine power-play goals and giving up five on-the-man advantage. Meanwhile, the Bruins are 5-2-1 since the last meeting, registering a positive goal differential of two, 23-21.

New York now returns to the road for their fourth away game this month after walking away from a mini three-game homestand with a 2-1-0 record, only losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs (7-4) on Tuesday night. So far in December, the team is 4-3-0 and has almost identical records at home (10-3-0) and as visitors (10-4-1). Over their previous ten games, New York is 6-4-0.

Today’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (20-7-1) vs. Boston Bruins (19-5-4)
Date/Time: Dec. 16, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: TD Garden
TV: MSG, NHLN
Radio: 98.7 FM ESPN

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

New York Rangers projected lineup

new york rangers
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

During the summer, when the Rangers signed three-time Stanley Cup champion and Connecticut native Jonathan Quick to a one-year deal, many people laughed at the agreement, thinking the future Hall of Famer had nothing left in the tank. Surprisingly, he’s been the team’s unheralded MVP with a 9-0-1 record, keeping the Rangers at the top of the division despite the unusual struggles of former Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin.

Shockingly, Shesterkin is coming off a loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, where he surrendered six goals, the ugliest loss of his career since 2021. Even though he’s struggling to make key saves and keep the puck out of the net, he will get the nod against Boston since he did not play in the first meeting in November.

As expected, the Rangers are still without Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko, who remain on injured reserve. Nick Bonino is under the weather having missed Friday’s win over Anaheim, as did K’Andre Miller (personal reasons), both are considered questionable. Which means tonight’s lineup may look like this:

Kreider – Zibanejad – Wheeler
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Edstrom – Brodzinski
Vesey – Goodrow – Pitlick

Lindgren – Fox
Gustafsson – Trouba
Jones – Schneider

Shesterkin
Quick

New York Rangers vs Boston Bruins

Since TD Garden, named initially the Fleet Center, opened during the 1995-96 season, the Rangers have enjoyed playing at the arena, earning a 24-22-2-3 record after 51 contests. Additionally, they’ve earned three shootout victories in enemy territory despite being outscored by the Bruins 136-129.

Ultimately, Saturday night’s meeting is just round two of a three-part battle in what should be one of the NHL’s most-watched matchups. After tonight, only one more meeting will be left on the schedule, Mar. 21, 2024, back in Boston.

Although a lot has changed since the first encounter in November, with each team getting bypassed by the reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in the overall standings, no one in the lineup will have forgotten what happened at Madison Square Garden just three weekends ago.

Despite the showdown of two Vezina Trophy caliber netminders, with Shesterkin facing off against Jeremy Swayman (9-1-3), the Rangers should expect a different-looking Bruins team since they are missing their number one center (Pavel Zacha) and number one defenseman (Charlie McAvoy).

As one of the team’s core members who needs to improve, Shesterkin will get a chance to bounce back in a critical game, even though he has a 3-7-0 record against the Bruins in ten career starts.

Meanwhile, Artemi Panarin has ten points in December, with Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox behind him with nine points each. After that, Vincent Trocheck has eight points, with Jonny Brodzinski (six) rounding out the top five scorers this month.

Of course, Chris Kreider is coming off a two goal game and making some Rangers history. In beating the Ducks, he recorded his 500th career point, 100th career power play goal, and taking sole possession of third place on the franchise all-time list surpassing Adam Graves.

I love Adam Graves,” Kreider smiled after picking up career tally 281. “It’s hard to talk about it, especially with a game tomorrow. Happy with the result and we’ll try to go get a win in Boston tomorrow.”

Whether you are a Rangers fan, a Bruins fan, or love to watch two great hockey teams play, Saturday night’s matchup is one you won’t want to miss because the final score could be 2-1 or 6-5, depending on who steps up in the spotlight.

Some of Ryan Gagne's all-time favorite goalies have been Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, and Igor Shesterkin. As a Yankees... More about Ryan Gagne

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