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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Rangers, Saturday October 23rd

Boston (4-1-0) looks to ride their current win streak to five games tonight at TD Garden, as they welcome in their Big Apple rivals, the New York Rangers (2-2-1), for an Original Six prime time battle.

The Bruins are coming off back-to-back wins over a talented Washington Capitals team, with goalie Tim Thomas continuing to shine for the B’s. Save for one boneheaded move outside the crease that led to the Caps’ only goal of the night Thursday, Thomas was stellar, turning away every other shot he faced in route to the team’s 4-1 home opener win.

New York has gotten off to a bumpy start thus far, especially due to injuries to their veteran forwards. Marian Gaborik, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago, is out of action for the Blueshirts with a separated shoulder, while Vinny Prospal recovers from knee surgery and captain Chris Drury waits for his broken finger to heal.

It should be an exciting night on Causeway Street, as it always is when a Boston-New York rivalry is on center stage. Let’s now take a look at some other game notes leading up to tonight’s tilt…

  • New York got its first look at backup goalie Martin Biron Thursday night, as his 24 saves led the Rangers to a 2-1 win over Northeast Division leading Toronto. New York’s star goalie Henrik Lundqvist (1-2-1, 3.75GAA) is expected back in goal for tonight’s game.
  • As for Boston’s crease conundrum, according to reports from the Bruins’ morning skate today, Tuukka Rask was the first off the ice, which generally indicates that he will be your starting goaltender this evening. Rask (0-1-0, 4.01GAA) hasn’t seen game action since the team’s season opener, a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes over in Prague.
  • We’ve already laid out the injury woes for New York, but beyond Marc Savard’s post-concussion syndrome and Marco Sturm’s ongoing recovery from knee surgery, the B’s have stayed off the medical tables thus far. Brad Marchand, one of the team’s fourth line wingers, was struck with an Alex Ovechkin slapper in Thursday’s win that caused Marchand to miss some time late in the game, but after an off-day Friday, the team is confident he will suit up and play tonight against the Rangers.
  • New York took three of four from Boston last season, winning the first three matchups before the B’s topped them in their final meeting, 2-1 at TD Garden.
  • The B’s are in search of their fifth straight victory tonight. The team had two four-game win streaks last season, but never won five straight.
  • Boston’s top line of Nathan Horton (4G, 3A), David Krejci (1G, 5A), and Milan Lucic (3G, 3A) continue to lead the offense, with rookie Jordan Caron also adding some scoring punch as of late, lighting the lamp in two of his last three contests.
  • For New York, the offense has struggled. The team’s leading scorer, Derek Stepan, has just three goals and two assists through five games. Behind him on the team’s stat sheet is enforcer Sean Avery (0G, 4A), and centers Brandon Dubinksy (3G, 1A) and Artem Anisimov (2G, 2A).
  • As for local flavor on the Rangers roster, you won’t find any former Bruins on the team, but you will recognize three players who did their college work in the area. Injured captain Chris Drury and young defenseman Matt Gilroy both played their college hockey under Jack Parker at Boston University, while center Brian Boyle, a Hingham-born product who attended St. Sebastian’s High School, skated four years under Jerry York as a Boston College Eagle.
  • Lastly, for those attending tonight’s game, two bits of good news to share. First off, the Samuel Adams Bru-Fest will take place outside TD Garden prior to the game. This will be the first of four Bru-Fests planned this season, as fans 21 and older with tickets to the game, can enjoy live music, giveaways, games, and concessions, in the parking lot on Causeway Street, outside the Garden. The second bit of good news is that Steven Tyler will not be singing the National Anthem this evening. His “unique” rendition Thursday left most fans of the newly named American Idol judge awfully disappointed. Instead, the beloved Rene Rancourt will be back in action tonight, belting out the Star Spangled Banner like only he can.

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