As we inch closer to the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline, the Bruins and Rangers are two teams heading in very different directions.
The Bruins have been one of the league’s hottest teams with a 17-1-4 record in their last 22 games, which has helped them rocket up the Eastern Conference standings. Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, Bruce Cassidy’s charges sit three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for tops in the conference and have two games in-hand.
It’s been quite a turnaround from one year ago today when the Bruins decided to fire Claude Julien and replaced him with Cassidy, who hadn’t been an NHL head coach since 2004. A commitment to youth coupled with the influence of several Stanley Cup winning veterans has resulted in a new beginning in Beantown. The likes of Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy have made an impact to complement the contributions of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, who returns from a five-game suspension Wednesday night.
“For younger guys he’s [in] more of a teaching role and he’ll let you know when you make a mistake, but he’s trying to show you how you can improve on that,” forward Noel Acciari told Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com. “Being able to play for him down in Providence and just knowing how he coaches and playing for him up here, nothing much has changed with him. If you give him everything you have, he’s not going to complain. You might make your mistakes — he knows everyone’s not perfect, and he’s just looking to correct some stuff here and there. But I enjoy playing for him and I know a lot of guys do too.”
Meanwhile, the Rangers may be still in the playoff mix — three points out of a wild card spot — but all signs are pointing to a big upheaval should general manager Jeff Gorton have a successful trade deadline. Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and captain Ryan McDonagh have all found themselves in the rumor mill, with Nash already submitting his no-trade list to management.
New York has 10 games before the deadline, and while that could give them time to grab a seat in the East playoff dance, it’s probably better that they attempt a re-tool on the fly to make the most out of what’s left of Henrik Lundqvist, who has three more seasons on his deal after this one.