We have not one but two Original Six rivalries to feast on tonight.
Yes, while there are only two games on the NHL slate tonight, they are two great ones with the Boston Bruins taking on the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens doing battle in a compelling North Division showdown.
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It promises to be a blockbuster night of hockey in the National Hockey League, and it starts with the Bruins going up against the Rangers. The B’s have won three straight and have staged comebacks in the third period in all three games, sitting atop the stacked and ultra-competitive East Division with a 8-1-2 record. Meanwhile, the Blueshirts are 4-5-2 on the year and are bottom of the East, so tonight will be a big opportunity to try to make up some ground in a division that is wide open.
Then we have the small matter of the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET) in what is a tantalizing battle between the top two teams in the North Division. The Maple Leafs are the best team in the NHL right now with a stellar 10-2-1 record, spearheaded by the elite play of Auston Matthews who leads the entire league in goals with 11.
However, the Canadiens have also been pretty damn good and are 8-2-2 on the year, combining strength, speed and size and a boatload of roster depth to put them second in the North Division, and tonight could well prove to be a real measuring stick when it comes to the ultimate battle for this division. So, without further ado, let’s delve into some storylines to keep an eye on across two very compelling games tonight…
Storylines to follow in mouthwatering Original Six matchups
Can the Rangers stop the Bruins?
So the New York Rangers will be going with Alexandar Georgiev tonight who hasn’t played since being beat 5-4 by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Overtime on Jan. 30, after which he got in an altercation with defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who is now in exile.
Georgiev has struggled so far this season having allowed 12 goals in three starts with a 4.50 Goals Against Average and a .854 Save Percentage, although he has kept one shutout against the New York Islanders this year. However, Georgiev will be up against it tonight given that he will be going up against a loaded Boston Bruins offense who boast enough firepower to sink a small fleet of battleships.
Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand both have 15 points on the year, while David Pastrnak has been outstanding in his return from hip surgery, putting up eight points (5 G, 3 A) in four games including a hat trick against the Philadelphia Flyers. That top line alone can sink teams at will and Georgiev and the Rangers will need to play a solid game in their own zone if they are to win the first meeting of the year against the B’s.
Don’t sleep on the Rangers, though, given that Artemi Panarin has picked up from where he left off last year with 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in 11 games, while it should be only a matter of time until the likes of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere hit their stride and start to contribute some big time offense for a team that needs a real spark right now, but this one should be a real fascinating battle between the top and the bottom team in an ultra-competitive East Division.