NEW YORK --New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is still waiting for the day when he can just be another hockey player wearing a visor. It's not Thursday.
Staal skated again Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden, but he isn't expected to play in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. He hasn't played since Game 3 against the Washington Capitals on May 6 -- and that was his first game since he suffered his right eye injury two months earlier against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"My belief is that in a certain amount of time I'll never have to answer another question about this again," Staal said.
NEW YORK -- Shortly after a brief morning practice heading into Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins were expecting a desperate effort from an opponent looking to avoid a series sweep.
NEW YORK --New York Rangers defenseman Roman Hamrlik has been practicing in the morning and watching games at night for the past seven-and-a-half weeks. Hamrlik better have been working hard and watching closely because he is expected be smack dab in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Hamrlik likely will replace injured defenseman Anton Stralman in the Rangers lineup for their must-win Game 4 against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS). Stralman was injured late in the second period in Game 3 Tuesday, when Bruins forward Milan Lucic crunched him into the end boards in the defensive zone.
Boston leads the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal series 3-0.
"I've been watching the games from upstairs and that's a different view," Hamrlik said after the morning skate Thursday. "During the game you see lots of mistakes, but when you're on the ice or on the bench, it's much faster and quicker. Your brain has to [react] really quickly about what you're going to do. For me, I just have to read the play and use my stick, do what I do the best, make the first pass and play good defense."
Richards said Rangers coach John Tortorella called him Thursday morning to give him the news that he will be a healthy scratch for the elimination game. The Bruins lead the Rangers 3-0 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
NEW YORK -- On a team known for its remarkable consistency, the Boston Bruins benefited in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers from a trio not known for filling the net.
In a 2-1 win Tuesday, Boston's fourth line of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille accounted for both goals in an unexpected show of offensive flair. Thornton's two assists in the game doubled his career point total accumulated over 76 previous Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Even if offensive outbursts like the one they had in Game 3 aren't an every-game occurrence, the Bruins' fourth line has been known to set the tone for the rest of their team, thanks mostly to their contagious energy and physicality.
"When those guys come up large for us, it really ignites our dressing room. Guys are really happy for them," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "In a team sport, sometimes you have players that have more attention than others. These guys don't get the attention they probably deserve on a lot of occasions. So when they get that opportunity, everyone kind of rallies around them."
It's amazing when you consider the undrafted 5-foot-9, 180-pound lefty was just finishing up his final season at Michigan State University a season ago before signing an entry-level contract with the Bruins on March 25, 2012.
Now he's playing a key role for the team in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers. Despite the fact he didn't experience the thrill of hearing his name announced at the NHL Draft, he told NHL.com it was probably a blessing in disguise.
"Yes, it's your childhood dream to hear your name called [at the draft], but it's not the end of the world," Krug said. "If you're going to make it to the NHL, you're going to make it, there's nothing that will stop you. You have to have that mindset, and maybe use it for motivation and work harder. But if you're out there, they're going to find you and you have to have faith in yourself."
NEW YORK -- After contending with a depleted defensive unit for the entirety of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien could be getting some help in the near future.
Veteran defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden, neither of whom has dressed for the series against New York, participated in an optional skate Wednesday. Julien sounded encouraged by their performance in practice.
"Every day they're better. That's progress," said Julien, who gave no word on whether either player would be available for Game 4 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; CNBC. RDS, TSN). "That decision will be made [Thursday]. I like the direction both those guys are going in now, so we'll keep our fingers crossed."
NEW YORK -- There is no need to remind the players and coaching staff of the Boston Bruins that winning the fourth game of a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is never easy.
The Bruins failed to secure that fourth win in 2010 after gaining a 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, losing in seven games. This year's team almost blew a 3-1 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the conference quarterfinals but rallied for a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 7 on May 13 at TD Garden.
Boston now finds itself in familiar territory against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bruins, who hold a 3-0 series lead over the Rangers, are hoping to seal the deal Thursday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS).
"You learn from the past and live in the moment, but you don't live in the past," Bruins coach Claude Julien said following his team's optional practice Wednesday at MSG. "So right now, we're living in the moment and I like where our team is -- the attitude and approach.
"If we don't take the same attitude we did [Tuesday in a 2-1 victory], we shouldn't expect to win the hockey game."
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers appear to be bracing themselves for what will likely be an even further depleted blue line corps in a must-win Game 4 against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Anton Stralman did not participate in the optional practice Wednesday after sitting out the third period in Game 3 Tuesday. Stralman was crunched into the end boards in the Rangers' defensive zone by Bruins left wing Milan Lucic with 6:54 to play in the second period. He returned for one more shift roughly three minutes later but didn't play again.
The Rangers have already been playing without Marc Staal (eye), but he has been skating for the past several days with the scratches. Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik are the other options for coach John Tortorella if Stralman is unable to play in Game 4.
"Losing Stralsy is a big blow to us," Tortorella said. "He puts himself in a situation there where he's playing in an area to try and make a play and gets hurt. And he's done that really through the playoffs here. To a defense that's lacking a little depth right now, it hurts us."
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers power play certainly needs more work. Their penalty kill, however, hasn't had any of late at Madison Square Garden.
The Boston Bruins did not receive a power play in their 2-1 victory against the Rangers in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series Tuesday night. New York went 0-for-2 and has received the past 11 man-advantages awarded in its building.
That might be a frustrating statistic for most teams, but the Bruins managed to keep their focus in Game 3 and came away with a victory that has the Rangers on the brink of elimination heading into Thursday's Game 4.
For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.
— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday