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Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers 01.22.13 at 2:25 pm ET
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The Rangers are 0-2-0 this season. (AP)

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,
Claude Julien on Rangers: ‘Let’s go at it’ 01.19.13 at 12:39 pm ET
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Rick Nash was the Rangers' offseason prize. (AP)

For the most part, the Bruins have a relatively easy schedule for the first third or so of the season. They’ll only face two teams that made the playoffs last season in their first 15 games, but one of them is the Rangers, and they’ll face them three times.

To narrow it down even more, the Bruins will face the Rangers twice in their first three games of the 48-game season. The B’s and Rangers are two popular favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference this season, as the B’s no longer have the Stanley Cup hangover excuse, while the Rangers have added six-time 30-goal-scorer Rick Nash to a roster that grabbed the top seed in the East last season.

That means both teams will have a couple of big tests right off the bat, and could easily begin the season with two early losses if they aren’t sharp enough. Claude Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate that he embraces the challenge.

“I don’t know if I feel more weight; I think I like that opportunity,” Julien said. “I really do. I’d rather play one of the best teams in the conference than not. And right now let’s go at it. Like I said, we’re both at the same stage where we’ve had six days of training camp. Let’s go at it. You know, we go at it again on Wednesday. So there’s no issue from my end of it, and as I’ve always said you control what you can and control your team and the schedule is made and then you go with it.”

Tuukka Rask, who will get the nod in net for the B’s Saturday, said that he expects the Rangers to be a difficult opponent with the addition of Nash, but that he expects every game to be a challenge.

“You know what? It doesn’t matter who you play against in this league,” he said. “Every team has good players, and everybody knows they added him during the offseason. They’ve got some power up front, so we’ve just got to be aware of that and get ready.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Rick Nash, Tuukka Rask,
Rick Nash headed to Rangers, so that Bruins thing isn’t happening 07.23.12 at 3:14 pm ET
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One common solution to many Bruins fans’ problems has been for them to trade for Rick Nash. Their reported interest in the star winger has popped up multiple times over the last year, and while such a scenario never seemed likely, it definitely isn’t happening now.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Rangers and Blue Jackets have agreed to a deal that will send the seven-time 30-goal-scorer to New York. Headed to Columbus for the 2002 first overall pick will be forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky as well as defenseman prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.

While the Rangers have to take on six more years of a $7.8 million salary cap hit with the 28-year-old, it sure looks like New York got the better of the deal. The Rangers didn’t have to touch their core, and while Dubinsky (26) and Anisimov (24) might have their best years ahead of them, they have two 20-goal campaigns between them in eight combined seasons between them. Nash has scored 40 goals twice in nine seasons.

Also, when looking at the haul that the Blue Jackets got, it’s pretty clear the B’s could have easily gotten Nash if they really wanted him. Any one of Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin or Tuukka Rask is a better piece than any of the players New York gave up.

Read More: Rick Nash,
Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘I totally understand’ Habs fans’ cheering of Zdeno Chara’s injury 02.17.12 at 11:48 am ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and touched on the behavior of Canadiens fans after Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was hit in the face Wednesday night by a clearing attempt by Tomas Plekanec. Habs fans cheered while Chara was down on the ice and bleeding.

The social media world soon blew up with tweets lecturing Montreal about showing class as a fan base, but Ference appeared less concerned.

“I wouldn’t say I was offended,” Ference said. “You don’t like it, but I know where they’re coming from. I don’t know if it’d be a very different story in a lot of arenas for whatever big rivalries happen no matter what sport it is. … It’s just the way it is. It’s not something you really like but, like I said, I totally understand it.”

Added Ference: “When people talk about it being it being a heated rivalry and people caring a lot about it, it’s true, it’s not just kind of empty words. They do care a lot about it. They’re passionate about hockey and so when one of your most hated rivals and the biggest guy on the team goes down like that, like I said, it’s not that surprising.”

Ference also discussed the domino effect of losing key players on the team and what kind of impact it’s had on other players and the way the Bruins have played night in and night out.

“It’s not easy, especially if you’ve been playing with a certain guy for a long time, it makes it more difficult. But that just comes down to something that if GMs are looking at players, they wonder how adaptable they are and how quickly they can either change their style of game or change the way they play with certain players, and that’s obviously a plus,” Ference said. “The more people you can have that can do that the better, and obviously some people are better at doing it than others. I think that over the past few years we’ve had pretty good success with injuries and dealing with them, and some pretty big guys. I think you just kind of cross your fingers and hope that guys will keep their game at a high level despite their linemates being out.”

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Read More: Andrew Ference, Rick Nash, Tomas Plekanec, Zdeno Chara
Tuukka Rask, Bruins beat Blue Jackets in shootout to snap skid 03.15.11 at 9:47 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin was given just 9:57 of ice time Tuesday night, but he co-starred with Tuukka Rask in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Blue Jackets that ended a four-game losing streak.

The Bruins fell behind in the final minute of the first period when Grant Clitsome sent a blast from the blue line past Rask, but a Zdeno Chara shot that went off David Krejci would tie it in the second. With the Bruins trailing in the third period and Nathan Horton in the box for holding the stick, Rich Peverley scored the B’s eighth shorthanded goal of the season, beating Steve Mason for his 16th goal of the season.

Rask, who had 32 saves in regulation, made timely saves in the third period in stopping Jakub Voracek, Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett on key Blue Jackets opportunities. He followed that by stopping Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin in the shootout.

The Bruins will head to Nashville to face the Predators on Thursday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- While benching Michael Ryder may have opened some eyes, there’s no debating that the Bruins are in better shape for a shootout with Seguin in the lineup. The rookie has struggled to pin down the NHL game physically, but when it comes to skating down the ice untouched, talent trumps all.

- The Bruins may have not seen much time on the power play, but they scored more than Columbus on Blue Jackets power plays. The B’s killed off all six penalties they took, with Peverley scoring the timely short-handed goal.

- Either Milan Lucic or Krejci were bound to see their point streaks continue due to the B’s first goal, and after a scoring change it proved to be Krejci. Lucic hit Johnny Boychuk with a pass in the offensive zone, with Boychuk setting up a Chara blast that went off Krejci before sailing past Steve Mason. Though Lucic didn’t get an assist on the play, he still has six points (2 G, 4 A) in his last six games. Krejci now has at least one point in each of his last six games, and eight points (2 G, 6 A) over the span.

- Good to see Rask play the role of stopper, as he picked up the Bruins’ first win in five games. The Bruins’ four-game skid was the ninth time this season the team had lost at least two games in a row. Of the previous eight occurrences, Tim Thomas had gotten the win that followed the first five losing streaks, with Rask now serving as the stopper in the last four. That’s a combination of both coincidence and the fact that Claude Julien is giving his young goaltender more time down the stretch.

- Mark Recchi continues the climb up the list for most games played. Tuesday, he surpassed former Bruin Dave Andreychuk, and at 1,640 games, Recchi is now fifth all-time.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins had just one power play in the game, and it lasted all of five seconds. Patrice Bergeron took an interference penalty following the face-off that began an Antione Vermette hooking minor. The team’s power play struggles have been well-documented (just one power play goal since Feb. 28), and having just five seconds on the man advantage isn’t exactly the right way to remedy them.

- Scottie Upshall continues to haunt Rask. Nice puck-movement by his line drew Rask way out of his net with less than eight minutes to go, and Upshall easily put his 20th of the season into an unoccupied net. The goal was his third goal against Rask in three games facing him.

- That’s now two games in a row in which Nathan Horton has taken a penalty in the final seven minutes of the game with the Bruins trailing. Horton was called for interference at 13:12 of the third period against the Islanders on Saturday, and he went off at 13:06 for holding the stick. Of course, the Bruins ended up tying the game with Horton in the box, but it certainly isn’t the type of habit the B’s want to develop. Krejci would later be called for a cross-check with 4:34 remaining.

Read More: David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic
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