Tale of the Tape: Rangers vs. Bruins

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On Sunday, the Boston Bruins will take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (12:30 p.m ET, NBC) — here’s a look at recent history between the two clubs.

New York: 41-15-7, 1st in Atlantic Division. Leading scorer: Marian Gaborik (31G-26A-57PTS)

Boston: 38-21-3, 1st in Northeast Division. Leading scorer: Patrice Bergeron (19G-34A-53PTS)

New York leads the season series 2-0.

Jan. 12, 2012 — Rangers 3, Bruins 2 (OT). An otherwise exciting affair was marred by Andrew Ference getting a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for this hit on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh:

“It was one of the most dangerous hits I’ve seen in a while,” New York head coach Tortorella said. “Nothing needs to be said about what has to be done.”

The hit overshadowed Marian Gaborik snapping New York’s lengthy power-play drought with his overtime winner. The Rangers hadn’t scored a power-play goal in the seven games prior (a total of 15 opportunities) and had just one man-advantage goal since Christmas.

Feb. 14, 2012 — Rangers 3, Bruins 0. Henrik Lundqvist out-dueled Tim Thomas in the battle of All-Star netminders, turning aside 42 shots for his 42nd career shutout. Thomas, conversely, allowed three goals on 20 shots.

This was a statement victory for the Rangers as they claimed Eastern Conference dominance from the Bruins. With the win, New York opened up a nine point lead on Boston for top spot in the East, prompting Bruins coach Claude Julien to concede the Rangers were the team to beat.

“No doubt, right now they’re playing the best,” Julien said. “They’re playing like we did last year when we were playing well. Right now that’s the identity we’re looking for again.”

Rivalry Reborn?

New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle — a native of Hingham, Mass. — is a huge Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. Yet, as CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty found out, Boyle’s love of New England sports doesn’t extend to the Boston Bruins.

“I hate the Bruins. I hate them with a passion,” Boyle said prior to the Valentine’s day tilt against New York. “That’s how it’s supposed to be, I think, and that’s how it’s been for a while. Last year they won and congratulations to them, but it really made me upset. I was pretty angry about it.”

The B’s-Blueshirts rivalry has been quiet for a while — the two haven’t met in the postseason since 1973 — but it appears to have heated up again this season. After the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers both lost their captains (Sidney Crosby and Chris Pronger, respectively) many figured the road through the Eastern Conference would have to go through New York or Boston.

Sunday will go a long way in deciding which road it’ll be.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.