NEW YORK -- Coach Alain Vigneault was not at the helm last season when the New York Rangers were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in a five-game Eastern Conference Semifinal series. But he admitted to harboring his own personal feelings for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
"I don't need to have played for the Rangers to have a dislike for Boston," Vigneault said after New York's morning skate. "I got that on my own."
As coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who dismissed him following last season's first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, Vigneault and his team lost to the Bruins in seven games in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. That series was an intense one for all parties involved, but Vigneault didn't feel any need to remind his players of their respective histories with Boston.
"I think everybody is aware of the New York-Boston rivalry. It's a good one," Vigneault said. "It's intense and it's going to be that way [Tuesday]."
The game Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) isn't just the first matchup between the Rangers and Bruins since the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It also marks the return of forward Rick Nash, who missed 17 games with a concussion and is ready to get back on the ice.
"I think it's always tough games against this team," Nash said. "For me personally, I'm just worried about getting back in and helping the team, helping the Rangers. No matter who the opponent is."
The Rangers posted a 9-8-0 mark in Nash's absence but certainly could use his offensive flair considering they have scored three goals in the past three games. Nash skated alongside Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin at the morning skate, but Vigneault would not tip his hand in terms of how his lines would look for the game. He did confirm Nash would get time on the power play.
"We're happy for Rick first. You don't want anyone to deal with that," Boyle said. "We need to bounce back. We need to individually assess our game and try to improve. When you add Rick back it's a good feeling, it's a positive feeling. He's excited to get back."
With Nash back, J.T. Miller will be a healthy scratch. Taylor Pyatt also took to the ice for the first time since sustaining a concussion Nov. 7, but remains out.
The Bruins held an optional skate Tuesday after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 Monday. This game at Madison Square Garden will close a three-game road trip for them, after which they will return home to play five of their next six, including a rematch with the Rangers the day after Thanksgiving.
Chad Johnson was one of the few Bruins players on the ice Tuesday, indicating Tukkaa Rask could get his third straight start in goal. Bruins coach Claude Julien would not commit to a starter.
Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Rangers on Tuesday: