Rangers get second chance to lock up division, conference titles

Brian Boyle, left, was given the John Halligan Good Guy Award for Cooperation with the Media yesterday — contrary to what this picture might indicate.

Rangers head coach John Tortorella was asked three questions during his pregame press conference Sunday afternoon, a little more than two hours before the Rangers would drop a 2-1 decision to the Bruins. Each question was about whether there was any significance to clinching both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Tortorella said “no” three times before he abruptly stalked away from the dais.

While the coach professed not to assign any relevance to winning the franchise’s first regular season conference championship and division since 1993-94, his charges recognize the heavyweight portion of their campaign has unofficially commenced.   

“We got three good teams coming up,” Brian Boyle said after the loss Sunday night. The Rangers will complete the Atlantic Division portion of their schedule tonight in Philadelphia and Thursday in Pittsburgh before ending the season Saturday night at the Garden against the Capitals.

“We can learn [from the loss]. It [stinks] to lose, always. No one’s happy in here, but we can learn from it and get better.”

That hasn’t been a problem for the Rangers against the Flyers this season. The Rangers have won the first five games of the regular season series by an aggregate score of 19-8. Dating back to the final two meetings of last season, the Rangers are 7-0 against Philadelphia.

If they keep that streak alive they will clinch the division and conference tonight in Philadelphia. They need just one point thanks to the Flyers’ win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Just one point

Rangers alternate captain Brad Richards said the team knew what it needed to do to clinch the best record in the conference, but they won’t worry about it.
   
“You don’t go into a game thinking about one point,” Richards said Sunday. “It would have been nice to win. We all know what’s at stake, but we’ve still got three games left in the season to continue what we want to do here.”


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