NHL on NBCSN: Banged up Rangers look to take down red-hot Bruins

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the New York Rangers at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Boston Bruins were quiet for most of deadline day, but they managed to make a last-minute deal to bolster their forward group by acquiring Drew Stafford from the Winnipeg Jets.

A few weeks ago, it looked like the Bruins would be sellers, but since they made a coaching change and went from Claude Julien to Bruce Cassidy, things have really turned around.

Under Cassidy, the Bruins play quick, aggressive and it doesn’t hurt that they’ve started putting the puck in the net with a lot more regularity.

“Bruce has been there all year this year,” said Patrice Bergeron, per the Boston Herald. “He was in the organization for nine years. So the system, there are a lot of similarities to it. The change has been pretty smooth so far and the biggest change so far is he wants us to play with more tempo, more speed and go up the ice in a hurry. The practices are maybe a little different in that way. It’s lots of energy and you’re always moving your legs, which is a good thing. You kind of duplicate that in games.”

Boston comes into tonight’s game having won three in a row and seven of their last 10 outings. The improved play has resulted in them jumping up to third place in the Atlantic Division standings. Their 72 points are tied with Ottawa, who’s in second place, but the Sens have reached that number in two less games. Both teams are six points behind Montreal for top spot.

The Rangers weren’t willing to pony up the assets it took to acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis, but they still managed to come away with reliable defenseman Brendan Smith from Detroit.

Smith, who took part in Wednesday’s practice, found himself on the first pairing with Ryan McDonagh.

“I’m excited to be on a good team that’s in the playoff hunt,” Smith told the New York Post. “I love playoff hockey, so it’s an exciting time to come to a good team like this.”

New York took a physical pounding in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Capitals. Chris Kreider left that game for a few minutes, but managed to return. He didn’t take part in yesterday’s practice, but it sounds like he avoided a serious injury.

The news wasn’t as good for Jesper Fast, who was crushed by Alex Ovechkin. Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault expects him to be out two-to-three weeks with an upper-body injury.

Michael Grabner was forced to leave practice early after taking a cross-check from teammate Adam Clendening. Grabner’s availability for tonight’s game is in question.

On the blue line, Dan Girardi missed the game against Washington because of an ankle injury and he’s expected to miss two more weeks, while Kevin Klein (back spasms) is supposed to skate in Boston today.

Yea, the Rangers are pretty banged up, but they have to find a way to get back on track. They’ve dropped back-to-back home games to Columbus and Washington and were outscored 9-3 in the process.

The schedule won’t be too kind to them either, as they’ll play five of their next six games on the road.

A quick side note: Happy Birthday to the king, Henrik Lundqvist, who turns 35 today.