Rangers set to take on league-leading Bruins in clash of titans this afternoon

New York Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler (17) celebrates with left wing Chris Kreider (20) after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period at Wells Fargo Center
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have exited Philadelphia with another victory, and will now look to take on the Boston Bruins back at home this afternoon. The Rangers have been incredible to start the season, as their 14-3-1 record has the Blueshirts at third overall in the NHL with 29 points.

The Boston Bruins are one of only two teams to be better than the Rangers currently. At 14-2-3 (31 points), the Bruins hold the top spot in the NHL. It will be the toughest battle fought yet this season for the Rangers, but there’s hope that the Blueshirts will be able to pull off yet another victory.

The Rangers’ offense will need to be nothing but perfect

The Rangers have been overall elite in the offensive zone this season, but it will take absolute perfection from their top scorers in order to beat the Bruins. The Blueshirts’ even-strength production has been hit or miss to begin the year, but yesterday’s victory over the Flyers saw both Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider finding the back of the net at 5v5. It’s key that the Rangers maintain this skillset and produce points as often as possible.

The Rangers’ power play must also step up their game this afternoon. The Blueshirts’ PP does rank third overall in the NHL, but it has gone scoreless over the Rangers’ last two games. This is the first and only time this season in which the power play has not scored in back-to-back games, so this is the perfect opportunity for the special teams to get back on track.

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Shesterkin needs to repeat his elite goaltending against the Bruins

Although this afternoon’s starting goaltender remains unknown, the Rangers will likely be playing superstar Igor Shesterkin once again. He’s been great to begin the season, but it still seems as if Shesterkin is having sort of a down year through 11 games played.

Shesterkin has notched eight wins, but his goals-against average is a bit high at 2.45, and his save percentage a bit low at .916. Clearly, these are not bad numbers. But for a star goalie like Shesterkin, Rangers fans expect better.

Shesterkin had a masterclass performance yesterday against the Flyers. He allowed just one goal and had an SV% of .973. Being the likely starter this afternoon, it’s imperative that Shesterkin repeats this performance and shuts down the Bruins’ elite offensive corps.

The same goes for Jonathan Quick if he ends up getting the go-ahead between the pipes.

The Rangers have the potential to become the top team in the NHL

While sitting at third overall in the NHL, the Rangers can move up to the number one spot if this afternoon goes well. The Bruins are only two points ahead of the Blueshirts but have played one extra game. A regulation win would tie the Rangers and Bruins in points, but New York would win the tiebreaker due to their extra win prior to overtime.

The No. 2 ranked Vegas Golden Knights do play later this evening, but with a little help from Arizona, the Rangers could overtake them as well for the number one spot. Either way, a regulation win over Boston would elevate the Rangers to either the number one or two spot in the NHL.