Bruins-Rangers Preview

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.