NHL Preview (Feb. 12)By Alex H.
Tuesday night’s 10-game NHL schedule features a pair of must see matchups.
First up, the New York Rangers travel north to Boston to take on the Bruins (again) in a game with Eastern Conference bragging rights written all over it. The Bruins have started the better team but New York looks as though it has found at least some rhythm.
From there, Chicago welcomes Anaheim to the Windy City in a clash of the Western Conference’s top two sides. Unbeaten in regulation, the road warrior Blackhawks will be hoping the comforts of home spur the team on to victory.
New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Despite the season being a mere three weeks old, the Rangers and Bruins will sew up their rivalry for the season (playoffs pending) on Tuesday night at TD Garden in downtown Boston.
The Bruins defeated the Rangers 3-1 on the opening day of the season before New York scored a 4-3 overtime victory four nights later at Madison Square Garden. The two sides meet for a third and final time on Tuesday.
Boston (8-1-1, 4-1-0 home) currently leads the Northeast Division by one-point over Toronto, and resides within the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have won two straight and five of the last six.
Meanwhile, the Rangers (6-5-0, 1-3-0 road) – favored to lift the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the season – struggled early and find themselves behind both New Jersey and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division. A run of better form recently – five wins from seven – has seen John Tortorella’s side climb into the No. 8 playoff spot.
The Rangers have struggled on the road this season, losing three of four, while Boston has been efficient at home. That being said, Buffalo handed the Bruins a first home loss the last time the side took to the ice in Bean Town (Jan. 31).
Boston’s home game on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning was postponed (to Apr. 25) due to the snow storm that struck the city.
Boston is favored (-136) over New York (+124) heading into the game.
Anaheim Ducks at Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago (10-0-2, 2-0-0 home) remains unbeaten in regulation this season and will look to continue this streak on Tuesday night as the Ducks come to the United Center.
What’s most remarkable about the Blackhawks’ streak is that it has been achieved mainly on the road, with only two games having been played in the Windy City so far this season. Having not played in the United Center since Jan. 27, Joel Quenneville’s side now settles in for seven straight at home.
Anaheim (8-2-1, 4-1-1 road) currently sits in the No. 2 Western Conference playoff spot behind top-seeded Chicago. The Ducks arrive in the Windy City having won four of the last five, and two of the last three on the road.
Ranked 24th in the league ahead of the season, the 2007 champions are currently showing bookmakers up. Understandably, odds of the Ducks winning the Stanley Cup have shortened from 45/1 to 20/1 in the three week span of the regular season. A win over Chicago would be huge.
The opening line has Chicago (-152) as the favorite and Anaheim (+138) as the underdog.
Around the League
Southeast Division leading Carolina (6-4-1, 2-2-0 road) travels to Atlantic Division toppers, New Jersey (8-1-3, 5-0-1 home) on Tuesday night in what should be a tight game. The Devils currently lead the Eastern Conference and are favored on the line (-157) over Carolina (+143).
Washington (3-8-1, 0-4-1 road) will look to shake its reputation as the NHL’s worst team by knocking-off fellow struggler, Florida (4-6-1, 2-2-0 home) in Sunrise, Fla. The home team Panthers (-126) are favored over the Capitals (+114) on the opening line however.
Having been used to leading the NHL in points scored in recent years, Vancouver (7-2-2, 4-1-1 home) will look to tally another two points when division rivals Minnesota (6-5-1, 1-3-1 road) come to town. The Canucks (-186) are favored over the Wild (+169) on the opening line.
Tuesday’s NHL Schedule (in full)
Carolina at New Jersey
Buffalo at Ottawa
Washington at Florida
Montreal at Tampa Bay
NY Rangers at Boston
Philadelphia at Winnipeg
San Jose at Nashville
Anaheim at Chicago
Dallas at Edmonton
Minnesota at Vancouver