All 23 Rangers took part in practice at the MSG Training Center on Monday before the team headed to the airport and a short flight to Boston, where Tuesday evening the Blueshirts will skate against the Bruins at TD Garden. Line combinations and defense pairings remained unchanged from Sunday's 5-1 victory over the Lightning, meaning that Brian Boyle---scratched the last two games---skated as an extra on the fourth line.
Boyle stayed on the ice after practice was over with teammates J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, and Stu Bickel, working on some things, while also having some fun and laughs.
Things again turn serious for the Rangers when they face a Bruins team that has lost only once in regulation over ten games this season (8-1-1) and which has compiled the second-most points (17) in the Eastern Conference to date. Michael Del Zotto said after the workout that Tuesday's game will offer an improved Rangers squad the chance to reclaim another part of its identity.
"I think part of our identity has been how well we play on the road and how we perservere through trying circumstances when playing on the road," explained Del Zotto. "Boston is a tough building to play in, but I think this is the next step in restoring our identity, by playing well in a big road game."
The Rangers are just 1-3-0 in their first four road contests this season, including a 3-1 loss in Boston on opening night. However under head coach John Tortorella the Rangers have had three straight winning seasons on the road, including last year's franchise-best 24-12-5 road mark.
While Tortorella takes pride in how well his club plays away from Madison Square Garden, he is not overly concerned about home or road games at this point.
"I don't look at home or away, each game I just look at how we played," said the head coach following Monday's practice. "And I thought last night, after a track meet the first ten minutes of the game, we played some of our best hockey of the season. And if we can play that way, that will translate whether we are home or away."
Tortorella did admit that there is one aspect to the 2013 schedule that he caught his attention in this abrdiged 48-game season.
"We are cognizant of (being a quarter of the way through the schedule already)," offered Tortorella. "I usually don't pay too much attention to it, but this season it has a lot to how you are running your hockey team. So we need to get the wins quickly, and we need to get going right away because there just isn't much time. You win a couple games and you are right there, but you lose a couple and you are out."
The Rangers will enter play Tuesday having won two in a row, three of four, and five of their last seven games.
Are you looking ahead to Tuesday night already? If so, what do you think will be the biggest keys for the Rangers? Share your thoughts below.