Bruins, Rangers look to continue surges
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NEW YORK -- Neither the New York Rangers nor the Boston Bruins are off to the best of starts, but both teams come into Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night looking as though they are about to turn the corner.
The Rangers (7-7-2) are looking for their fifth straight win to put their 3-6-2 start even farther behind them. After rallying from down 2-0 in the second period and 3-2 in the third to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, the Rangers are starting to feel like the team some thought would be playoff-bound before the season.
"It's high. It should be," Rangers center Mika Zibanejad said of the Rangers' confidence. "I think we talked about that early on and especially after the second period that if we want to be a good team we have to find ways to win the game even though we are down. We did that and I think obviously the past three games helps that confidence and helps that feeling in the locker room of even if we are down coming into the third to be able to come back. It was important."
The power play has been a catalyst during the Rangers' winning streak; it is 6-for-13 over the past four games.
"We all have to be shooters first and I think that's the first thing that we tell each other," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "We are simplifying it. We are not doing anything crazy, but we know when we have those weapons we have to use them. We've just been doing a very good job through our success of not getting outside of our game and making sure we are sticking to the plan."
The Bruins' 2-3-0 start wasn't catastrophic, but they have been finding points with more consistency the past few weeks. Since a 3-1 loss in Las Vegas on Oct. 15, the Bruins have earned points in seven of eight games (4-1-3) and had one of their best showings of the season in a 5-3 win against the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
And it all has happened with the Bruins battling significant injuries. The win against the Wild came without Brad Marchand, David Krejci and David Backes.
"Guys are stepping up," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara told the Boston Globe. "They see a chance. They see the opportunities of getting more ice time. They're getting more looks. It's great to see that guys are taking advantage of those chances. They want to play and earn their ice time."
The Bruins will likely be relying on much of the same cast of younger players that excelled against the Wild. Jake DeBrusk, Frank Vatrano, Sean Kuraly and Tim Schaller, players better known for their AHL exploits than their NHL careers, all scored Monday.
"Guys who have been here for a year or so, this is what we've been working for, to get the chance," Kuraly told the Boston Herald. "We really want to grasp it, and we really want to help the team in a time where we've got some guys, important guys on our team that are not able to play."
Updated November 8, 2017