New York Rangers done with practice, ready to face Boston Bruins

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Nov 26, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) tries to gain control of the puck ahead of Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers just finished their fourth day of practice and are ready to move on to game action. While being idle since February 1 isn’t exactly ideal, the team enjoyed the extended time off.

“Our schedule probably couldn’t be any better,” Ryan Strome said. “Honestly, mental and physical break like Troubs said is huge. I think just refresh for the final stretch here and get a few practice days to get back into it and ramp it up a little bit day-by-day which is nice rather than having to hit the ground running and potentially be sore. Build up and be ready for a big game against Boston.”

Rangers ready to face the Bruins

The New York Rangers were among the bigger surprises in the NHL and they went into a two-week break with an impressive win against one of the league’s top teams.

The Rangers look to keep the good times rolling Tuesday night when they return from their time away against the visiting Boston Bruins.

The league initially was going to pause while some NHL players headed to the 2022 Beijing Olympics but is using the time to fill many postponed games for every team.

“We need to continue to do what we’re doing,” head coach Gerard Gallant said on Monday. “I like where we’re at in the standings. We’re working hard. We had a great break and four good days of practice so everyone should be ready to go again.”

Getting back from the break

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Nov 26, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers right wing Julien Gauthier (15) reacts after a goal by left wing Artemi Panarin (10) during the third period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

New York started its break with an impressive 5-2 win on Feb. 1 over the Florida Panthers, whose 69 points lead the Atlantic Division. That victory followed a 3-2 win over the expansion Seattle Kraken that actually angered the coach.

Chris Kreider scored twice on the power play against the Panthers to boost his season goal total 33, which is tied for the league lead with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl entering play on Monday. Kreider’s 17 power-play goals lead the league, and the Rangers headed into the break having scored on 25.9 percent of their power plays, fourth best entering Monday, while struggling at times on even strength.

“We battled hard and for the most part played the right way,” New York’s Mika Zibanejad said. “We go to the break with two big points and that’s huge for us.”

The Rangers played their final three games before the break without standout defenseman Adam Fox, who was injured in the third period of a 5-3 loss at Columbus on Jan. 27. Fox is expected to return from injured reserve to continue a season in which he has seven goals and 40 assists.

“Obviously, it was a kind of a lot of games in a few days there heading to the break,” Fox told reporters at practice last week. “I’m just excited to get back out there and start playing again now.”

“You’re a little antsy watching the games and you want to be out there,” he said. “I feel 100% and ready to go.”

Bruins will be without key players

Boston has experienced mixed results since winning five straight games last month. The Bruins are 5-5-1 over their past 11 contests and have allowed at least four goals in each of those losses.

After allowing a combined 10 total goals in losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins bounced back with a 2-0 victory at Ottawa on Saturday afternoon. Trent Frederic and Curtis Lazar scored in the first period while Jeremy Swayman stopped 30 shots for his second shutout of the season.

“Great way to start,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Probably something we needed. I’m not saying we needed to score on the first shift, but we had to be on time today and in the game and build some momentum off that. I thought we were. We were clearly the better team in the first period.”

The quick start occurred as Brad Marchand missed the second contest in a six-game suspension. Captain Patrice Bergeron also missed the past two games with an upper-body injury and is expected to be out again Tuesday, although he could return later this week.

“We’re missing the guys who drive the bus for our team but it’s an opportunity for the next guy to step and take it upon ourselves,” Lazar said.

The Rangers claimed the first meeting when they scored three times in the third period of a 5-2 win at Boston on Nov. 26.

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–Field Level Media contributed to this report