Tuesday night’s Garden match against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Bruins marked the first time the two teams faced each other since the Eastern Conference semifinal series the Rangers lost in five games.
Six months later, memories of the complete outclassing still linger.
“It was a tough series,” Anton Stralman told Metro New York outside of the Rangers dressing room following the morning skate. “Boston was the better team. They fully deserved that. We never got to the level we needed to be and they were obviously feeding off of that comeback against Toronto [in Game 7 of the Bruins-Leafs Eastern Conference quarterfinal series], and kind of just rolled us over.”
When since-fired head coach John Tortorella met with reporters on Breakup Day, he laid the blame for the Rangers lack of readiness in the series at his feet, saying he had not been able to prepare his team emotionally for the second round following a seven-game series win over the Capitals.
Stralman disagreed with Tortorella’s assertion.
“It’s hard to say,” Stralman said. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t think it had anything to do with the Washington series. That was a tight series — seven games — but they did the same thing. So I don’t think that [had] anything to do with that. They were more in the moment than we were. Their team was working harder than [we were].”
The Rangers and Bruins will meet two more times in the regular season, in Boston on Nov. 29 — a game the NHL and NBC have titled the Thanksgiving Showdown — and March 2 at The Garden.
On the road again
As the Rangers embark on a five-game, nine-day road trip, Derick Brassard believes he and his teammates are a better team than the one that spent much of October on the road.
“We are,” Brassard said, adding that the players’ fathers will make the trip. “We are obviously a better team. I think we’re 8-3 in our last 11 [actually 7-4], so obviously we’re a better team. I think [last night’s game against the Bruins was] the first time we [played] with a full lineup. It’s going to be interesting to see.
“It’s already one quarter of the season gone and it’s the first time [dressing the full lineup].”
Falk in for Del Zotto
Justin Falk replaced Michael Del Zotto in the lineup for the third straight game. Acquired on draft day in a trade from Minnesota, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Falk provides more of a physical presence than the 6-foot, 195-pound Del Zotto.
“He brings us a safe game,” head coach Alain Vigneault said of Falk. “What we’ve seen in the last couple [of games he has] a little bit of a bite. So against the Bruins that’s not a bad thing to have in your lineup.”
J.T. Miller was also scratched.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.