With only one mere point separating the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, Saturday's matinee hockey game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers is really for the title of best in the East.
It's been 10 months since these two teams last squared off, and both teams have certainly performed well and accomplished a lot since they last saw each other. The Rangers (29-12-4) have performed very well this season as they currently sit a top the Eastern Conference with 62 total points. Meanwhile, the Bruins (30-13-1) have performed equally as well, but they have thing the Rangers don't have since the last met: A Stanley Cup.
The Rangers know this, and are ready for anything and everything.
"It's a great challenge," Rangers center Brad Richards told his team's official website. "We haven't played them yet, and we've been looking forward to this all year, the defending champions neck-and-neck with us all year. It's a great building to play in, a Saturday afternoon. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Thanks to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, the Boston Bruins closed the cap even further on the Rangers with a well deserved two points. The Rangers, meanwhile are coming off a 4-1 loss the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the Bruins, they still feel they can be better.
"We obviously talked about needing to be better," goaltender Tim Thomas said. "You can talk about it, and there's a difference between talking about it and doing it. One of the good things about this team is, more often than not, we do it."
B's right winger Nathan Horton is currently on quite a roll. In his last two contests, Horton has three goals with three points and currently leads the team in goals. Horton has nine goals and 13 points in 24 games played against the Rangers in his career.
As for the Rangers, they've been a little bit of a slump. They have dropped three of their last five contests since winning 10 of their previous contests. In these contests, the Rangers have scored either zero or one goal in four of their previous six. New York goalie Henrik Ludqvist knows this, and believes it's imperative his team get back to their winning ways sooner rather than later.
"For a while when we were winning a lot of games we did all the little things really well," Lundqvist said. "That's just what we have to come back to."
For the Bruins, they have a big challenge ahead of them in Ludqvist. In addition to career season in New York that has seen him go 20-10 with a 1.93 GAA, he's also had Boston's number in the past. In 23 career meetings, Lundqvist is 16-5-2 with a 1.50 GAA with five shutouts against the Bruins.
The Bruins have yet to announce who their starting goalie will be for this contest because of another big game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. With back to back big games, the B's will likely have to utilize both Thomas and Tuukka Rask this weekend, we're just unsure as to what contest each will play in.