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NHL: Boston Bruins @ New York Rangers preview

Two teams with championship aspirations from the Eastern Conference meet as the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins.

The fixture will be Boston's second in New York in as many days, after beating the Islanders 4-1 improved their Atlantic Division and overall league leading record to 35-5-4 which includes 14-4-1 on the road. 

The Rangers will be well rested after a 3-1 victory over Columbus Blue Jackets at the start of the week, which took their record to 25-13-7 and places them third in the Metropolitan Division.

New York are 11-8-4 at home and will be desperate to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat to Montreal Canadiens last time out. 

WhatBoston Bruins @ New York Rangers
WhereMadison Square Garden, New York
When19:00, Thursday 19th January
How to watchNHL.COM/ Viaplay Sports
OddsBoston Bruins 10/11, New York Rangers 10/11

Eastern heavyweights 

The Rangers made the Eastern Conference Final last season where they were beaten by Tampa Bay Lightning. 

With their last Conference win coming in 2014, the run gave them confidence that the glory days are close to returning to New York. They are 18/1 to go a step further and win the Conference title this season and also 18/1 to lift their first Stanley Cup since 1994. 

Boston were more recently crowned Eastern Conference champions in 2019 and they are 12/5 to win the Prince of Wales Trophy again this season. After sitting top of the NHL standings for almost the entirety of the season so far, the Bruins are 1/10 to be awarded the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best regular season team. 

If they were to do that, the prize is home ice advantage throughout the playoffs where Boston have lost just once in regulation time (21-1-3). The Bruins are 9/2 to hoist the Stanley Cup which they last won in 2011.

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Old guard leading the charge 

The Bruins brought back 36-year-old David Krejci from Czechia in the off-season to re-unite him with Patrice Bergeron, 37, and Brad Marchand, 34, who were all crucial parts of the Bruins' 2011 championship success. 

Knowing time is running out for them to win the Cup again together, the Bruins have stampeded their way through the first half of the NHL season with the experienced trio showing no signs of father time catching up with them. 

26-year-old David Pastrnak leads Boston for goals (35) and points (63) but behind him is Marchand (41 points), Bergeron (35 points) and Krejci (35 points).

In addition to their experienced core, the Bruins have enjoyed significant contribution from the likes of Jake DeBrusk (30 points) and Taylor Hall (30 points) giving hope that depth scoring won't hurt their playoff aspirations as it has all too often in recent seasons.

Hampus Lindholm (29 points) and Charlie McAvoy (27 points) have also provided an offensive punch from defence and helped the Bruins score an average of 3.82 goals per game which is the best in the league. 

Thanks to a league-leading save percentage of .937 from goalie Linus Ullmark, the Bruins have also conceded the least goals of any team, allowing an average of just 2.09 per game. 

Rangers won't be intimidated

The Rangers won't be intimidated, though, as they too have a strong performing star cast who are well supported with secondary scoring. They also have the luxury of the reigning Vezina Trophy holder in between the pipes in the form of Igor Shesterkin. 

With 47 points (12 goals, 35 assists) Artemi Panarin leads the way for the Rangers with Mika Zibanejad just behind with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists). 

Vincent Trocheck (31 points), Chris Kreider (30 points) and Filip Chytil (24 points) provide the offensive depth on the forward lines while Adam Fox continues to star on defence and is fourth among all league blue-liners with 45 points (nine goals, 36 assists). 

In all, New York have scored an average of 3.16 goals per game (16th) and conceded 2.62 on average (fifth).

Shesterkin has a .918 save percentage and his battle with Ullmark will be a fascinating one both on the night and for this seasons Vezina Trophy award which Ullmark is 6/4 to win and Shesterkin 8/1 to retain.

Bruins one up 

The Bruins have already won once at Madison Square Garden, in the first week of November by a 5-2 scoreline.

Three unanswered goals in the third period turned the game in Boston's favour on a night where both teams were blanked on their powerplay. 

The Bruins have the third hottest powerplay in the NHL at 27.8% and best penalty kill at 86.7% while the Rangers are firing at 22.1% (16th) on their powerplay and killing at a rate of 80.5% (13th).

A big discrepancy between the two was on the face-off dot where the Bruins dominated by winning 31% of draws.

Bergeron was a big part of that and he is second in the league with a 62.9% winning percentage among players who have taken over 400. 

Boston's win rate over the season is 56.2% (second) and New York's 49% (21st) and that difference is one New York will need to make up if they want to avoid the confident Bruins controlling much of the play.

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