AT A GLANCE: On the brink of elimination, the Rangers will try to avoid a series sweep against the Bruins at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. A deep, balanced and physical team that has outmatched the Rangers thus far, the Bruins will try to close it out in four games to avoid another white-knuckle series like in Round 1.
SURPRISING SCRATCH: Veteran center and alternate captain Brad Richards will be a healthy scratch. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner said coach John Tortorella called him Thursday morning to give him the news. The two won a Stanley Cup together while with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. The 33-year-old Richards, who has struggled throughout the 2013 season, was recently relegated to the fourth line with Arron Asham and Chris Kreider, playing only 8:10 in Game 3, just 5:58 of which was at even strength.
BEEN HERE BEFORE: The Bruins are still haunted by memories of 2010, when they coughed up a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers, allowing Philadelphia to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. According to Boston coach Claude Julien, the team “still lives with that,” but is playing “in the zone” now. The Bruins also let the Toronto Maple Leafs erase a 3-1 series deficit this year, forcing a stunning Game 7.
MORE CHANGES: The Richards move will not be the only lineup change for the Rangers. Asham is also expected to sit out Game 4, with rugged forwards Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley drawing into the lineup. Chris Kreider, who took a stick to the face in Game 3 and did not skate with the team in Wednesday’s optional practice, is expected to play.
DEPLETED D: The Rangers will try to send the series back to Boston without one of their top four defensemen, as Anton Stralman will miss the game with a suspected shoulder injury. Stralman was injured in Game 3 after absorbing a hard hit from the Bruins' Milan Lucic late in the second period. Veteran Roman Hamrlik, who has not played since April 1, will likely play.
IMPACT PLAYERS: Earlier in the week, Tortorella called Boston’s Brad Marchand “the best player in the series so far,” but it was the Bruins’ fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton that made the difference in Game 3. Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Torey Krug both have two goals in the series.