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Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers

01.22.13 at 2:25 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — When the 48-game schedule came out following the lockout, one of the most interesting aspects of it throughout the league was that the Bruins and Rangers would play each other twice in the first three games. That meant that in a season that placed even greater emphasis than usual on strong starts, one of the best teams in the NHL could easily end up in an early season hole.

As it turns out, the Rangers face that prospect. The schedule-makers weren’t kind to John Tortorella‘s club early on, as the Rangers had to face the high-powered Penguins the day after opening the season in Boston. The results haven’t been good, as the Eastern Conference favorites followed Saturday’s loss to the B’s by dropping a 6-3 contest to the Penguins in their home-opener. Now, the team will need to beat the 2-0-0 Bruins to avoid starting the season winless through three games.

“You know that they’re going to be ready for that game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Tuesday’s practice. “Also, we beat them the first game, so you know they’re going to look for some revenge probably, so it’s going to be a tough one. We’re expecting the best out of them, and we need to make sure we bring our best game as well.”

It’s hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but the value of two points is inflated in a 48-game season, and the Rangers have some stiff competition in their division (Penguins, Flyers) for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The desperation should be there at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins will need to be ready for it.

“I don’t think [they’ll come out harder]; I know they will,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly, when you’re put in that position and you’re the type of team that they are, we expect nothing but their best game out of them tomorrow.”

The Rangers, who came two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season, are a logical candidate to win the Eastern Conference after trading for seven-time 30-goal scorer Rick Nash.

The Bruins welcome the test that will come with playing a desperate team. David Krejci even likened Wednesday’s game to a postseason contest in which a team trailing in the series makes a push to narrow the gap.

“I know there’s been lots of talk. They made some moves, they want to go deep in the playoffs so I’m pretty sure that’s not the start they wanted to have,” Krejci said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We might be in the situation during the season or in the playoffs, that the team wants to come back and we have to show how to handle the situation. It’s a good challenge for us tomorrow and we’ll so how we can respond, but I’m sure we’re going to be ready for it.”

The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Bruins last season, so the B’s have already matched their 2011-12 win total against Tortorella’s club. The games between the two teams were tight (three of their four matches were one-goal games, including one decided in overtime), so the Bruins aren’t expecting anything to come easy against them.

“I’m sure Nash will buy into their system and has,” Chris Kelly said. “They’re a hard-working team and that’s the way they’re coached. They play hard, they play everyone and everyone contributes. They had our number last year, and we came out and played hard in the opener.”

Read More: David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Rick Nash,
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