B's schedule: Beast of the East

With 2 of the Bruins' first 3 games vs. the Rangers, it's an early litmus test of the East's elite. Scott Levy/Getty Images

BOSTON -- Bring on the Eastern Conference.

Now that the lockout is officially over and the NHL has released the shortened 48-game schedule, the Boston Bruins can get to work at defending their Northeast Division title.

The B's schedule is loaded with divisional opponents and conference foes over 48 games in the span of 99 days. Boston begins its quest against the New York Rangers on Jan. 19 at 7:00 p.m. at TD Garden. That matchup could very well be a precursor to the Eastern Conference finals since both teams are built to dominate the East.

The Bruins will play division foes Ottawa and Buffalo five times apiece and face Toronto and Montreal four times each. A total of 30 games will be played against Atlantic and Southeast Division teams, with the Bruins facing each team three times.

Boston will open the season with a two-game homestand, first hosting the Rangers before the Winnipeg Jets come to town on Jan. 21 for a 1 p.m. matinee. The Bruins will then hit the road to play the Rangers at Madison Square on Jan. 23.

The Bruins' longest homestand is a four-game set from April 15 through April 21 against the Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers.

Boston's longest road trip? A five-game stretch from Feb. 15-26 at Buffalo, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders.

The hockey will be fast and furious with little room for mistakes during the lockout-shortened season.

In the immediate future, the Bruins are scheduled to practice this afternoon. Stay tuned for more.