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Bruins going for sweep, Rangers try to stay alive

by Dan Rosen


(Bruins lead best-of-7 series, 3-0)


Big story: Only three teams in Stanley Cup Playoff history have come back to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games. Ironically, the Boston Bruins are the last team to blow a 3-0 lead and lose in Game 7. That happened three years ago, when the Philadelphia Flyers made history in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The New York Rangers will try to embark on a similar historic run starting Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, but they will do so without Brad Richards in Game 4. The high-priced veteran was told in the morning by coach John Tortorella that he will be a healthy scratch after playing just 8:10 on the fourth line in the team's Game 3 loss.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Tuukka Rask wouldn't say Game 3 was an easy one for a goalie, but he did call the Bruins' defensive effort in their 2-1 win the best he's seen in a long time.

"I thought that they didn't have really awesome scoring chances, maybe three or four, I'd say," Rask said after making 23 saves. "You get those shots from the point, we're usually blocking those or I have a good chance of saving them. We didn't have any defensive breakdowns. We didn't let any breakaways or too many 2-on-1s, stuff like that."

The Bruins won by a goal despite not being awarded a single power play, similar to Washington in Game 6 of the conference quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers have been awarded the last 11 power plays in playoff games at the Garden, but the Bruins are not at all concerned about that.

"In the playoffs, you can't complain," Patrice Bergeron said. "We're a good 5-on-5 team, so we're fine with that."

Rangers: Not only are the Rangers in an 0-3 hole, they may have to try to climb out of it without one of their key defensemen. Anton Stralman was hurt late in the second period of Game 3 when Milan Lucic crunched him into the end boards in the defensive zone. Stralman sat out the entire third period and did not participate in the Rangers' optional practice Wednesday in Greenburgh, N.Y.

Stralman is averaging more than 21 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs. He was paired with Ryan McDonagh in Games 1 and 2 and was with Michael Del Zotto in Game 3.

If Stralman can't play, Tortorella may have to choose between Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik. However, Marc Staal (eye) has been skating and could potentially get back in if his vision is OK. Staal played in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals, but hasn't played since.

"He's been huge in this series," McDonagh said of Stralman. "We don't know what's going to happen [Thursday] yet. He's working hard to give himself the best chance to play, and we'll see what happens. He's such a mobile skater, and that's huge for a defenseman. He's able to get a step on a guy and create some space and find a passing lane to get it up to our forwards. He's been exceptional in the playoffs, and we really hope he's back."

Perhaps the Rangers will get some good news Thursday because forward Ryane Clowe (undisclosed) returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since Game 5 against the Capitals. Clowe did not speak to the media.

Who's hot: Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk has goals in back-to-back games and four in 10 games during the playoffs. He is the first Bruins' defenseman to score four goals in the first 10 games of a playoff year since Ray Bourque did it in 1991. Boychuk had one goal in 44 games during the regular season.

Injury report: The Rangers have been without Staal (eye), Clowe (undisclosed) and Darroll Powe (undisclosed). All three skated Wednesday. … The Bruins are depleted on the blue line by the injuries to Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference. Seidenberg is skating, but Ference is still off the ice.

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