With less than six hours remaining before the puck drops on the 2013 season, the excitement is building at TD Garden for Saturday night's season-opening Original Six matchup between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
No real surprises lineup-wise. The Rangers will start 2012 Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Stu Bickel will slot in as the team's sixth defenseman on the third pairing with Michael Del Zotto, while both Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy sit out. Tough guy Arron Asham will also be a scratch as he serves the one game remaining on his outstanding four-game suspension from last season's playoffs.
AHL call-up forward Brandon Segal will replace Asham on the fourth line.
Nash, a big body with superstar skills, is regarded as the piece that could push the Rangers to the forefront of the Stanley Cup contender conversation.
"It raises expectations," captain Ryan Callahan said of Nash's arrival. "Expectations were already high after the season we had last year, so you just have to handle it the right way. ... You can just see his talent on the ice. He's going to help us in a lot of departments."
Rookie Chris Kreider will make his heralded return to Boston after leading Boston College to a national championship last season in the NCAA's Frozen Four. Kreider is expecting around 20 family members to attend Saturday night's game.
"It's obviously a little special," he said. "I'm excited. It's Boston."
Neither coach is expecting a perfect game from his respective club with the lengthy absence caused by the lockout.
"There's always rust. It's a game of mistakes," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We're not going to over-think it. It's our first game and we're tying to go about our business as best we can."
What's Claude Julien's game plan? "Keep things simple. Don't complicate it and make it harder than it has to be."
The Bruins return with a top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. Seguin led the Bruins in scoring with 67 points last year (29 goals, 38 assists) and hopes to build on that performance in his third professional season.
Tuuka Rask will be in goal for the Bruins. Rookie Dougie Hamilton will play in his first NHL game. The 19-year-old defenseman was the Bruins' first-round pick -- ninth overall -- in the 2011 draft.