Tonight on NBCSN, the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins in a classic Eastern Conference grudge match. You can catch the game on TV, or watch online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some notes ahead of tonight’s affair:
• Boston concludes a 4-game road trip tonight. The B’s were swept in their previous 3 games by the California teams, scoring just 3 total goals.
• The Bruins have not lost 4 straight all season and hope to gain ground on Tampa and Florida in the division race. They have a crucial matchup against the Panthers on Thursday.
• The Rangers also struggled on a recent trip to California (1-1-1 in those games), but bounced back on Monday with a 4-2 win over Florida at MSG. The Blueshirts sit 2 points ahead of Pittsburgh for 2nd place in the Metropolitan.
• Even though the Bruins have lost 3 straight on the road, a major reason for their likely return to the playoffs this season is their performance away from TD Garden. The B’s are just a .500 team at home (16-16-5), but one of the league’s top road teams.
• The Bruins are 3 road wins away from tying the franchise record of 26, set in their Cup-winning 1971-72 season. Tonight is one of 5 remaining road games for the Bruins.
• The trademark of previous Claude Julien-led Bruins teams was their defense – over the first 8 seasons of Julien’s tenure, the Bruins allowed the fewest goals/game in the NHL. That number has slipped considerably this season, but the team has still found success due to a spike in offense – the Bruins are the 3rd-highest scoring in the NHL this season.
• Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves against Florida to pick up his first win since February 27 (snapped an 0-3-2 stretch). It was his 32nd win of the season and the 371st of his career. Lundqvist is 1 win away from tying former Bruin Andy Moog for 15th all-time, and he has a realistic chance to finish the season alone in 14th place (former Ranger John Vanbiesbrouck is currently 14th with 374 career wins).
• Rick Nash snapped a 14-game goal drought on Monday night with his first goal since Dec. 30. Nash has been injury plagued this season, most recently missing 20 games with a bone bruise. After his best season as a Ranger last year, Nash’s production has suffered in 2015-16.
• Brad Marchand has a team-leading and career-high 34 goals this season (T-4th in NHL), though he’s currently riding a 5-game goal drought. He joins a short list players – all with notable tenures in Beantown – that have scored 30 goals in a season for Boston since the lockout.
• The Bruins’ most recent call up is also known for scoring. Massachusetts native Frank Vatrano played college hockey at UMass-Amherst, and his first full pro season has been a success, with 39 goals between the AHL and NHL.
• Leads AHL with 33 goals in 33 games for the Providence Bruins
• Scored 6 goals in 30 games with the Bruins earlier this season (last played Jan. 19).
• Eric Staal has only produced 3 points (1 G, 2 A) in his 11 games with the Rangers since being acquired near the trade deadline.
• Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello lead the team with 25 and 23 goals respectively, but have both struggled of late.
• Brassard: 3 goals in last 14 games.
• Zuccarello: 3 goals in last 15 games (goal Monday night vs. FLA).