Tag: Today on NBC

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.

Sunday on NBC: Streaking Penguins look to keep the Capitals down

Tomas Vokoun, Chris Kunitz

This isn’t quite the Penguins-Capitals game we were expecting when the year began — when the two teams square off at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m. ET on NBC), it won’t be a battle between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Instead, it’s about Evgeni Malkin carrying the Penguins on his shoulders against a Caps team looking to stay on top of the Southeast — and a rivalry that’s still heated, no matter what.

The Pens roll into this game on a five game winning streak, and a lot of that is thanks to Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin’s play this season without Crosby and Jordan Staal around is nothing short of amazing. Malkin has always been a superstar, but the work he’s putting in — jumping to the top of the NHL points leaderboard, making sure the Pens don’t lose their way while they’re swamped with injuries — is incredible.

Malkin having 24-goal-scorer James Neal riding shotgun with him on his line gives the Pens a nice one-two punch. With Kris Letang back in action after being out with a concussion, the Penguins have a bit more balance on defense and with Marc-Andre Fleury in goal, they’re never easy to beat. Coach Dan Bylsma has kept everything together in the face of injury disaster and, with guys slowing getting back to action, Pittsburgh’s shaping up to be a threat in the East.

For Washington, Ovechkin’s season hasn’t been nearly as mind-blowing. With how he compares to Malkin, you could argue that Ovechkin isn’t even the best Russian player in this game. Without Nicklas Backstrom to help set him up, Ovechkin will have to hope that his newest right wing, Troy Brouwer, can provide more of the snarl the Caps have lacked in the past to help them grind through games.

Getting improved play from their defense and goaltending would go a long way to helping the Caps. When Tomas Vokoun has been sharp, he’s looked outstanding. (Then there are other times when they’re losing to the Islanders and Hurricanes 3-0.) Without Mike Green (sports hernia) the Caps defense lacks both a real defensive stopper and an offensive weapon.

After going 4-4-0 in their last eight games, the Caps are still looking for consistency. The Pens would love nothing more than to continue their own streak and keep the Caps and coach Dale Hunter doubtful about how the team’s season will play out.

Today on NBC: Red Wings and Blackhawks renew rivalry in Detroit

Johan Franzen, Marian Hossa

Say what you will about the rivalry between the Red Wings and Blackhawks, but these two always bring the best out of each other. When they square off this afternoon in Detroit (12:30 p.m. ET on NBC), they’ll show why the race to win the Central Division might be the best in the NHL.

When you take a look at the standings and see the Wings and Hawks in a knockdown, drag-out battle for the division lead with the Blues, you see what makes it special. Of course, both teams come into today’s game with some lingering worries.

Chicago is dealing with the season-ending injury to Dan Carcillo as well as nagging injuries to Patrick Sharp (wrist), Marcus Kruger (concussion), and Steve Montador. While Kruger and Montador are feeling better, Sharp is still out. Chicago’s captain Jonathan Toews, however, isn’t making excuses for their recent struggles. Chicago has lost four of its last six, but is coming off two wins in a row over Columbus and Minnesota.

On the upside for Chicago, they’ve got Marian Hossa scoring in bunches and after seeing him go from Detroit to Chicago, the Blackhawks are reaping the benefits.

Detroit has been alternating wins and losses recently and that inconsistency makes coach Mike Babcock twitch. Such is life in a time of parity. That said, the Wings have gotten huge performances out of Pavel Datsyuk (even in spite of a mystery injury that kept him out against the Islanders) and Henrik Zetterberg, who dazzled with a Peter Forsberg-like shootout goal against Phoenix.

Making it all work out for the Wings is goalie Jimmy Howard who is having his best season of his career. His name is near the top of all the statistical categories and he was named to his first All-Star Game just this week.

A regulation win today for Detroit puts them back on top of the Central Division while Chicago can put a little breathing room between themselves and the Blues and Wings with a win. While the two sides stack up evenly today, it’s a divisional battle that won’t be going away anytime soon.