Rangers love Boston

The Boston Bruins were one of the NHL's worst home teams in 2006-07, but new coach Claude Julien has them off to a good start at TD Banknorth Garden this season.

However, remaining perfect at home could be a challenge for Julien and the Bruins on Saturday, when they host a New York Rangers team they haven't beaten since 2004.

The Bruins went 18-19-4 at the Garden last season - the second-worst home record in the Eastern Conference and fourth-worst in the league. Boston was winless in two home games against New York, falling 6-1 on Jan. 29 and suffering a 2-1 shootout loss on March 24.

Overall, the Bruins are 0-5-3 in eight meetings with the Rangers since a 3-1 victory on March 4, 2004. They've been outscored 31-12 in that stretch.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made New York -114 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston +104 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Boston (4-2-0) opened this year's home schedule with a 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Marco Sturm scored twice for his first multigoal game of the season and goalie Tim Thomas made 35 saves.

"We want to be a good home team," Sturm told the Bruins' official Web site, "so it was a perfect start."

Julien, however, doesn't agree. He expects to see improvement as the Bruins look to win their first two home games for the first time since 2001-02.

"It wasn't a pretty win,'' he said. "Certainly not to the expectations that we want. I think we are definitely happy with the win. It's certainly important. But hopefully, by the end of the year, we won't remember how we won that one."

Julien, who was fired by the first-place New Jersey Devils with three games left in last year's regular season, is looking for more consistency from his new club. After jumping to a 2-0 lead in the first period Thursday, Boston was outshot 15-3 in the second while allowing that period's only goal.

"I think it's just a matter of learning that the game is sixty minutes," said Julien, who went 5-2-1 against the Rangers while with the Devils last season. "If you come off a good period - a good twenty minutes - you have to come out even stronger the (next) period."

The Bruins may still be working on putting together a complete game, but they've fared well early this season. They've scored 14 goals while winning their last three games, which is one shy of their longest win streak from 2006-07.

New York (2-4-0), meanwhile, is hoping to avoid its third straight loss. The Rangers fell 5-3 in Atlanta on Thursday, giving the Thrashers their first win of the season.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a 2.02 goals-against average - sixth among goalies with at least four starts - before giving up all five scores Thursday to inflate his average to 2.53. He allowed two goals in the first period, and New York trailed for the rest of the game.

"It looks like it's impossible for our team to get a fast start," Lundqvist said. "They got momentum. We had to play on our heels."

New York has been outscored 5-0 in the first period of its four losses, but has outscored opponents 4-1 in the first period of its two wins.

The Rangers are 0-3-0 on the road to start the season. They haven't been winless through their first four road games since 1998-99, when they were 0-2 with three ties before notching their first victory away from Madison Square Garden.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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