by Patrick Hoffman on 03/04/12 at 10:00 AM ET
That is the case this afternoon for the New York Rangers as they get set to take on the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night in Tampa. The Rangers were able to come away with a point because Brandon Dubinsky scored the game-tying goal with 3:27 to play in the third period.
Up until that goal, it had been an up and down performance for the Blueshirts. They were able to generate several good scoring opportunities, get goals from the likes of Artem Anisimov, Marian Gaborik and Dubinsky while also getting a solid game from Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves) on his birthday.
With that said, the team was a bit inconsistent defensively and allowed the Lightning to get into the slot way too often and force the puck in on Lundqvist. In fact, the Rangers were outshot by a 13-3 margin in the opening period.
This afternoon against the Bruins, the Rangers will go up against a much bigger team with grittier forwards. The Bruins like to throw pucks on the net from anywhere and crash for rebounds, something that the Blueshirts need to try and prevent this afternoon.
The Blueshirts also need to get a second straight good performance from Dubinsky. Dubinsky, who was benched for the second and third periods against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, picked up just his 7th goal of the season against the Lightning. Dubinsky is someone who should be able to score at least 20-25 goals a season and create offensive opportunities every single game. Unfortunately, that just has not been the case for Dubinsky this season.
The team will also more than likely need a big performance from Lundqvist. Lundqvist was incredible against the Bruins back when the two teams met on February 14th in Boston. That night, Lundqvist made 42 saves en route to his seventh shutout of the season.
With the Rangers still on top of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 89 points, it will be important for the club to keep up their strong play down the stretch as games get tougher. Although the Bruins are coming off a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders yesterday afternoon at home, you know that the Bruins will come out hard today and try and get back on a more consistent hockey track.
Hopefully, the Blueshirts will be ready and will send themselves and their fans home with their 90th and 91st points of the season.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.