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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Rangers, Saturday 1-9

The Bruins (22-14-7) and New York Rangers (21-17-6) will skate at TD Garden in a Saturday matinee of Original Six proportions. These two teams faced each other earlier this week in New York, with the Blue Shirts escaping with a 3-2 victory after blowing a two-goal lead.

Bruins Injury Woes

Boston had three games so far this week, and in each of those games they lost a key teammate to injury. Monday against the Rangers, it was Patrice Bergeron who went down, and now he’ll be sidelined 2-3 weeks with a broken thumb. Tuesday in Ottawa, defenseman Andrew Ference fell victim to the injury bug. Ference will be out about 6 weeks with a groin injury.

And in the opening seconds of Thursday’s game with Chicago, center Marc Savard went legs first into the boards, tweaking his right knee. An official report from Friday’s MRI has not been released by the team, but Canada’s TSN is reporting Savard will be out 2-3 weeks with a strain of that knee. On top of all that, Byron Bitz missed Thursday’s game with back issues and is doubtful for today’s game.

Filling the Void

How do the Bruins fill all these voids? Enter defenseman Adam McQuaid, in place of Ference. Enter forward Trent Whitfield, called up from Providence yesterday. And welcome back the return of winger Milan Lucic, who rejoined the squad in Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Blackhawks. These are the guys the B’s will rely on through the rest of this month, until their big guns can return.

Let’s now turn our attention to Saturday’s familiar foe, the New York Rangers, with some news and notes heading into this afternoon’s Causeway St. tilt:

  • The Rangers are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers Thursday evening, in a game that marked goalie Chad Johnson’s first NHL start. (No, not Ochocinco…Johnson.) Johnson made 31 saves in the game, but let in an Atlanta goal in the fifth round of the shootout, giving him his first career loss.
  • Henrik Lundqvist (19-14-5, 2.40GAA) will almost definitely return to action in today’s game for New York. Thursday was the first game Lundqvist didn’t start since November 28th. He has beaten the Bruins twice already this season, 1-0 on November 1st and 3-2 earlier this week.
  • Scoring for the Rangers is led by newly acquired Marian Gaborik, whose 28 goals and 25 assists leads the team by far. The next man on the stat sheet is center Vinny Prospal, with 8 goals and 24 assists. No other Ranger has more than 22 points.
  • The last seven meetings between these two teams have finished in one-goal margins, dating back to their last meeting of the ’07-’08 season.
  • New York has earned at least a point in ten of their last 11 games, going 7-1-3 during that stretch.
  • With the Olympics fast approaching, January has been a busy month already for all NHL teams, as the schedule is very constricted these days, leaving room for the two-week Olympic break next month. Today’s game will be the fourth in six days for Boston, while New York will play its seventh game in the last 11 days.
  • After today, Boston heads west for a three-game trip to the Golden State. The B’s will face off with Anaheim Wednesday, followed by San Jose Thursday and Los Angeles Saturday afternoon.

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