Rangers host Bruins in battle for top spot in the NHL

After spending Friday afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, the New York Rangers return to the comforts of Madison Square Garden for a Saturday matinee. Furthermore, the upcoming game against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins will kick off a mini three-game home-stand for the road-weary Blueshirts, who have played 12 of their 18 games away from the Garden this season.

As mentioned, the Rangers won their most recent contest, stretching their current win streak to two games, while the Bruins dropped their game yesterday to the Detroit Red Wings and have only one win in their last three matches. Although the Rangers take the ice as the hotter team at puck drop, the Bruins haven’t lost consecutive games in the regular season since March 2023.

Realistically, there is no love lost in this historic rivalry. At the start of the season, many prognosticators wouldn’t have predicted these two Original Six franchises sitting atop their respective divisions, but here’s where they find ourselves after Thanksgiving.

Head coach Peter Laviolette reached a personal milestone yesterday by tying legendary coach Dick Irvin at 10th all-time for most regular-season games coached (1448). When the puck drops today, he will stand alone in that spot.

“Everyday I think how fortunate I am to be here,” Laviolette expressed. “To work with great players and coaches in the past, for me it’s always an honor.”

Today’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (14-3-1) vs. Boston Bruins (14-2-3)
Date/Time: November 25, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
TV: MSG, NHLN
Radio: 98.7 FM ESPN

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Is it time to reset expectations for Kaapo Kakko

New York Rangers projected lineup

NHL: Preseason-Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

After picking up his seventh win against the Flyers, Shesterkin has yet to play consecutive days so far in 2023-24, so there’s a good chance that Jonathan Quick will skate in his eighth game. Surprisingly, Quick is one of the best stories in the NHL right now, with a 5-0-1 record, a 1.68 goals-against average (GAA), and a .940 save percentage (SV%). Additionally, he’s compiled an 11-6-1 record with a 2.34 GAA and .921 SV% in 18 career games against the Bruins.

Meanwhile, the top line is clicking with six points on Friday, but those three skaters still chase Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, who lead the Rangers in points (11) for November. Statistically, after a productive game against the Flyers, Zibanejad is now plus-five, tying Ryan Lindgren for the lead in the month.

Kreider – Zibanejad – Wheeler
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Bonino – Kakko
Vesey – Goodrow – Pitlick

Miller – Trouba
Lindgren – Gustafsson
Jones – Schneider

Quick
Shesterkin

Note: The Rangers will not have a morning skate after playing an early game on back-to-back days. Head coach Peter Laviolette will address the media at 10:40 a.m. ET.

Update: Jonathan Quick will start

New York Rangers vs Boston Bruins

According to statistics from NHL.com, after a statement win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday morning, the Rangers currently own the lowest goals-against average in the league at 2.22. Despite what the media will have you believe about the outstanding seasons of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, the reigning William M. Jennings winners, are currently sitting at 2.26 and looking to catch the Shesterkin and Quick duo.

Although both teams went out and acquired a handful of veteran players like Blake Wheeler (New York) and James van Riemsdyk (Boston) in the offseason, these Original Six clubs are their respective division leaders. Additionally, they are separated by two points for the top spot in the conference. Surprisingly, many people wrote the Bruins off as a non-playoff team. However, they have proved the doubters wrong through 18 games with a league-leading 31 points.

Meanwhile, the Rangers were another team with more questions than answers but now look like a hungry team ready to take the next step. Interestingly, in the season’s first meeting, there is a lot on the line between these two iconic franchises. Whether the two points mean anything or not on a Saturday afternoon in November, the importance of a victory today will matter most in the final days of the regular season with playoff seeding on the line.

Historically, today’s game will mark the 667th meeting between New York and Boston, with the visitors holding a slight lead in the overall matchup 305-252-97-12. Despite a comfortable gap in the wins and losses, the matchup has been relatively close in the salary cap era, with Boston ahead 29-26-11, with a losing record of 13-15-5 at Madison Square Garden since 2005.

During the 2023-24 season, the Bruins are 7-1-2 on the road, the second-best mark in the Eastern Conference behind the Rangers (9-1-2). Meanwhile, New York is 5-1-0 at home this year, which ranks ninth in the conference and 16th overall. Interestingly, Boston is just 6-2-2 in their previous ten games, while the Rangers come into the contest at 8-1-1.

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