Posted March 31, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Michael Del Zotto
New York Rangers
With four games left, it's clear that New York Rangers coach John Tortorella and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien can't wait for the postseason to start.
The Rangers have won the first three 2011-12 matchups between these playoff-bound teams heading into Sunday night's contest at Madison Square Garden, where the Bruins could clinch the Northeast Division title if they haven't already by the time they take the ice.
New York (50-21-7) leads Pittsburgh by five points in the race for the Atlantic Division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers, winners of four straight, are also in contention with St. Louis and Vancouver for the Presidents' Trophy, but that doesn't much matter to their coach.
"It doesn't mean squat. I will tell you right now it means absolutely nothing,'' Tortorella said. "It's about how we're playing as we go through these next four games against tough opponents. It's about our game going into the playoffs. You get measured by the playoffs."
Boston (46-28-4) enters MSG on a 6-1-1 surge after Saturday's 6-3 road win over the Islanders. The Bruins lead Ottawa by six points in the Northeast.
The Senators will be eliminated from division title contention if they fail to get any points Sunday afternoon against the Islanders. Boston will clinch the division Sunday by matching or exceeding how many points Ottawa earns.
Julien, though, is focusing on his team's recent strong play as opposed to the standings.
"It's about picking up your game at the right time,'' Julien said. "We hope to peak when the playoffs are around. We're trying to play our best hockey heading into the playoffs.''
The Rangers have won nine of their last 11 against the Bruins, including all three meetings in 2011-12. Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 1.62 goals-against average while starting every game of the season series.
Tim Thomas has started twice against Lundqvist this season, compiling a 3.53 GAA. Thomas is set to be between the pipes Sunday after Julien gave veteran Marty Turco the nod Saturday on Long Island.
The Bruins are eager to measure themselves one final time against the team with the East's best record.
"I wanna get ready for the playoffs and it's a great test for myself and it's a great test for my team," Boston top scorer Tyler Seguin said. "We haven't done the greatest against them this year. Hopefully we can show what we can bring in maybe a couple weeks in the playoffs as well."
Seguin and second-leading scorer Patrice Bergeron have been limited to no goals and one assist against the Rangers this season. They combined for five points Saturday.
The Bruins are 0 for 8 on the power play against the Rangers, who enter with their power-play unit on a roll. New York is 4 for 9 with the man advantage in its last two games.
"With the skill we have, we're going to be able to score goals,'' said defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who has five points in the last two games. "You see just the way we're moving the puck, we're moving bodies."
Marian Gaborik has a team-high three goals against Boston this season, with Del Zotto and Brad Richards each contributing team-bests of three assists.
BEST OF MAXIM
The month of March didn't exactly go as well as the New York Rangers had hoped heading in. They knew a busy schedule with tough opponents was awaiting them, so it was no surprise to see them struggle at times along the way. But in this final week of the month, in which the Rangers have played four games in seven nights, things couldn't be going any better. They topped the...
Those are words most New York Rangers fans would have never even fathomed to be true, even as recent as last year. But the Rangers find themselves right there in the thick of a crazy rat race to take home the trophy that will assure them home ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs if, of [...]
Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record has this quote from John Tortorella on the Rangers reaching 50 wins last night..."It doesn't mean squat. It means absolutely nothing. It's about how we're playing as we go through these next four games. It's about our game going into the playoffs. You get measured as a player, you get measured as a team by what you do in the...
John Tortorella discusses the team's current performance and what the team needs to do to prepare for the playoffs...
Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards and Marion Gaborik talk about the team's recent performance and what they are doing to step up their game for the upcoming playoffs...
Brandon Prust, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto talk about the team's recent...
Ian Altenbaugh at Hockey's Future says that Brian Boyle is one of the Atlantic Division's unsong players, as well as major key to the Rangers success..."Towering center Brian Boyle may be one of the most important players on the Rangers roster though he rarely comes up in conversation. Standing at 6'7, it's hard not to miss Boyle, especially when he is throwing...
With the Philadelphia Flyers losing a point against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon, the New York Rangers officially clinched home ice advantage in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you recall, prior to the start of the season the team's common goal, within the locker room at least, was to earn home ice advantage by claiming a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference...
The Bruins appear to be snapping out of the funk they were mired in for much of the second half of the season. And they may just have things going in the right direction at just the right time with the postseason just around the corner. Boston headed into a clash with Washington on Thursday having won five of its last six games, solidifying their hold on the top spot in the Northeast...
You might think that since the Bruins and Rangers could face each other in the playoffs later this year, they might try to hold back on each other and not give away any future plans. On Sunday, however, both teams have plenty to play for. The Bruins can lock up the Northeast Division -- and hopefully, eventually, the East's No. 2 seed -- with a win against New York. The Rangers...
Tim Thomas turned aside 33 shots and the visiting Boston Bruins wrapped up the Northeast Division title and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and Patrice Bergeron scored second-period goals as the Bruins snapped a five-game losing streak to New York and prevented the Rangers from clinching the top seed...
Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin are neck and neck when it comes to the team lead in goals this season. But that isn't stopping the duo from lending each other a hand. Seguin set up Marchand with a pass upon entering the offensive zone, and Marchand carried it into the slot area, eventually slipping the puck past Islanders goalie Al Montoya. The Islanders looked like they were...
TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rangers will face-off against the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.; TV: MSG Plus; Radio: Bloomberg Radio), in an Original Six matchup. The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, and rank first in the league overall, with a record of 49-21-7 (105 pts). The Rangers enter the [...]
With the Pittsburgh Penguins falling to the Philadelphia Flyers on home ice earlier in the afternoon, the opportunity was there for the New York Rangers to clinch first place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with just a point in their game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday evening. Unfortunately for New York, they were unable to earn that single point and had...
Johnny Boychuk knows how to deliver a good, clean body check. Just Steven Stamkos or Simon Gagne. Or Matt Stajan. Or any other players on a growing list of victims of Boychuk body checks. The Bruins defenseman explained to NESN.com Bruins reporter Douglas Flynn that delivering a big-time hit doesn't just hit by accident. Like many other things in sports, delivering a big hit...
The Boston Bruins clinched a playoff berth without even touching a puck on Friday.The Buffalo Sabres fell 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which allowed the idle defending Stanley Cup champions to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season. The New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Penguins also have guaranteed passes to the postseason.Boston has a six-point lead...