Boston Bruins v New York Rangers

NHL on NBC: Rangers and Bruins battle as beasts of the East


When the Boston Bruins head into Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), they do so looking to catch up in the race for the Eastern Conference crown.

The Bruins come in with Tuukka Rask on the injured list after suffering an apparent leg injury in Saturday’s loss to the Islanders. Rask joins Rich Peverley (knee) and Nathan Horton (concussion) on the shelf. Compounding matters? The Bruins haven’t won two in a row since early January.

On Sunday, they’ll be hoping to serve notice they’re not quite out of the running for first in the East. (The Rangers lead the Bruins by 10 points)

With Tim Thomas leading the way in goal, Boston generally doesn’t have too many worries between the pipes. Keeping up on defense and scoring enough goals has been their bugaboo of late, however, as guys like Tyler Seguin, David Krejci (who both looked sharp beating New Jersey) and Patrice Bergeron could stand to let their presence be felt more on the score sheet. Same goes for Milan Lucic as well.

On defense, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg would be wise to get their Stanley Cup finals form back from last season, though the blueline received a boost on Saturday as Johnny Boychuk (concussion) rejoined the lineup after getting steamrolled by Ottawa’s Chris Neil last week.

The Rangers enter Sunday with injury worries of their own. Ryan Callahan missed last game against Tampa Bay (as did defenseman Michael Del Zotto) while Ruslan Fedotenko and Dan Girardi are banged up — that said, the quartet got a day off Saturday to rest in advance of the Bruins game. Formerly oft-injured forward Marian Gaborik is having a monstrous (and healthy) season, scoring 31 goals while leading all Rangers in points.

Even with a slew of injuries throughout the lineup, the Ranger can always rest easy knowing Henrik Lundqvist is in goal. He’s been one of, if not the, league’s best goalies this season and isn’t just in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy — he’s in there for the Hart as well. A showdown between Lundqvist and Thomas could mean goal scoring is kept to a minimum, but the game won’t lack in mind-blowing saves and skill in net.

Keeping it close: According to the Rangers, 15 of the last 19 meetings between the Rangers and Bruins have been decided by one goal, including six games that required extra time and five that went to the shootout, dating back to March 24, 2007. Considering that Lundqvist has made 22 straight starts against the Bruins, it’s no wonder every game has been close.

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher
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The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.

A month to remember: Duchene lighting it up in November

Matt Duchene, Nick Holden
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It wasn’t too long ago that a report surfaced saying that the Avalanche were willing to listen to offers on forward Matt Duchene.

When a player’s struggling and rumors start swirling, one of two things tends to happen.

Either the player involved lets it affect his on-ice performance in a negative way or he’s motivated by the trade talk and turns his struggles around.

Instead of pouting, the 24-year-old rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

In October, Duchene scored a goal and an assist in 10 games, but things changed in a hurry when November rolled around.

The Avs forward has picked up at least one point in 11 of 13 games this month.

Duchene has 11 goals and nine assists in November and he still has a game to go before the calendar flips to December.

“Obviously, things completely flip-flopped,” Duchene told the Denver Post. “That’s the coldest start I’ve ever had and things are good right now. Obviously, I know it could go right back, I could go cold again, that’s just the nature of the game. You just have to work every day to keep it going. The most important thing is to be able to provide offense and help the team win.”

PHT Morning Skate: A bride can have her burger and eat it too

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

A woman in a wedding dress was caught eating a burger during Saturday’s game between the Stars and Wild. (Above)

Team Europe has a number of quality goaltending options to chose from ahead of next fall’s World Cup of Hockey. (

Watch as some players on Nashville’s roster try to guess the lyrics to different country songs:

Former goaltender Eddie Johnston sits down for a Q & A with’s Shelly Anderson. (ESPN)

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got into a “Twitter war” with former NHLer Jim Kyte. (Puck Daddy)

Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference made a generous donation to a Syrian refugee fund. (Huffington Post)

Julien explains comments about Lundqvist’s ‘acting’

Claude Julien

We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.

Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.

On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.

Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.

Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.

Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”

It’s time for both sides to move on.