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Struggling Rangers host Bruins in Sunday matinee @NHL

BRUINS (6-5-1) at RANGERS (8-5-1)

Last 10 -- Boston 5-4-1; New York 5-4-1

Season series --
This will be the first meeting of the season. The teams split their four meetings last season, with each game decided by one goal.

Big Story -- The Rangers are reeling. They've lost 5 of 6 and have lost their last two games with Marian Gaborik out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury. The Bruins have been the epitome of an up-and-down team. They've alternated wins and losses since dropping their season opener to the Caps and are coming off a 2-0 win against Edmonton on Saturday.

Team scope:

Bruins -- After finishing first in the Eastern Conference last season with 116 points, Boston has struggled to find consistency. One player getting some blame for the uneven start is reigning Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara.

"He has to be better," General Manager Peter Chiarelli said of Chara. "When he plays a simple game, he's the best defenseman in the National Hockey League."

Chara's play Saturday against the Oilers showed that maybe he got the message. He was the game's first star despite not registering a point.

Rangers -- It seems like a lifetime ago that the Rangers were riding a seven-game winning streak. Everything was going their way. But now they're in a funk that coach John Tortorella doesn't think will end without a lot of fixes.

"We go back to work, there's no magic potion trying to get out of this here," he said following a 3-2 loss in Minnesota on Friday night. "It's just a matter of trying to cut down on our mistakes, especially the turnovers in the neutral zone, and go back to work and find a way."

Who's Hot -- Boston's Blake Wheeler has 3 points (2 goals) in his past three games. With Gaborik hurting, Vinny Prospal (4 goals, 13 assists) has taken over the scoring lead for the Rangers. He has a goal and 5 assists in his past five games.

Injury Report --
The Rangers are still looking at Gaborik's injury as day-to-day, while Boston is still adjusting to life without forwards Marc Savard and Milan Lucic, who are both out long-term with injuries.

Stat Pack --
Rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who was getting most of his ice time on the power play earlier this season, led the team in TOI (24:01) Friday against the Wild. In a 7-2 win against Carolina, the Bruins' power-play went 4-for-8. Boston is just 2-for-36 with the extra man in its other 11 games.

Puck Drop --
The Bruins will try to build on a solid defensive effort against the Oilers on Saturday, while the Rangers are trying to find the consistency that made them such a force during the first eight games of the season.

-- Dave Lozo,

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