The New York Rangers are facing the toughest part of their schedule -- one of the busiest months, plus trying to preserve their lead in the Eastern Conference. But now they'll have to do so facing another test, one they've been lucky to escape for much of the season -- and that's injuries. Sunday afternoon (12:30 p.m. EST) at home versus the Boston Bruins (NBC) New York could go to battle with a few starters missing from the lineup.
Ryan Callahan missed this second game of the year against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a bruised foot and Micheal Del Zotto missed his first with a sore right hip. But a few others were added to the "injury report" and that was Dan Girardi (bruised arm) and Ruslan Fedotenko (foot injury). Those two are pretty much locks to play, but the point remains the same: The Blueshirts play a very physical, wear-you-down style and they sacrifice their bodies a lot. They've been fortunate on the injury front this season. And they need to get guys like Callahan and Del Zotto right before the postseason.
The Bruins, 38-22-3, are 10 points behind the Rangers for first place in the Eastern Conference. They technically have the third-most points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, but because they're conference leaders, they get the No. 2 spot. Boston had a very up-and-down February. They only won three games in regulation -- and went 5-7-1 during the month. They've started March with an overtime win against the New Jersey Devils and a 3-2 loss versus the New York Islanders. There's no doubt they will really come with a chip on their shoulders at the Rangers.
The Blueshirts, 41-15-7, are 3-0-1 in their last four games. Marian Gaborik leads the team with 57 points and 31 goals. Boston, a very well-rounded, high-scoring bunch, is led by Patrice Bergeron with 53 points and Brad Marchand's 22 goals.
New York won the first two meetings on the road, 3-2 in overtime and most recently, 3-0. The players should really get a taste of Madison Square Garden playoff atmosphere in this one.