GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Forty years after the Rangers and Bruins last tangled in the Stanley Cup playoffs, they will finally meet again.
After opening-round Game 7 wins by each team this week, a spring rivalry that last saw Bobby Orr opposing Eddie Giacomin resumes. For hockey historians like the Rangers’ Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, this matchup needs no bonus billing.
“New York and Boston are two great cities with tremendous sports traditions,’’ said Lundqvist, whose back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 against Washington propelled the Rangers into the second round. “Neither side needs extra motivation. The intensity will be there the moment the puck drops in Game 1.”
That sentiment was echoed throughout the Ranger locker room following Wednesday’s practice, a day ahead of the opening contest in Boston.
“I know the energy will be great the whole series,’’ said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “We are in for a battle and so are the Bruins. We know Boston will be physical. We have to be ready for that.”
The Rangers received a necessary offensive jolt following their trade of Marian Gaborik to Columbus April 3. The trio acquired in return — forwards Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett, and defenseman John Moore — has had a positive impact, particularly Brassard, who led the Rangers in scoring against the Capitals with two goals and seven assists.
Brassard’s first playoff experience has been a boon to New York, and the 25-year-old center expects to revel in the excitement of the matchup with the Bruins.
“Two Original Six teams, that says it all,’’ said Brassard, who had five goals and six assists for the Rangers in 13 regular-season games. “I’m feeling good and we’re all ready to go after the tough series with Washington. I’m enjoying every minute.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella relentlessly preaches tight defense, shot blocking, and an opportunistic offense. He said there would be no deviation against the Bruins, whom the Rangers defeated twice in three games this season.
“We are going to continue to play the way we are supposed to play,’’ said the Boston-born Tortorella. “We don’t need to do a lot of adjusting. We go straight ahead and play our style.”
Tortorella also seeks more out of regular-season goals leader Rick Nash, who struggled against the Capitals with just two assists after his 21-goal season.
“He’s very close,’’ Tortorella said. “I thought Rick played really well in Game 7. I expect that to continue.”
The sometimes-abrupt Tortorella was matter-of-fact as he discussed the Rangers playing into mid-May after a 48-game regular season in which they struggled on offense and the power play. They managed to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference with a late-season surge.
“Judging by practice today, there’s a high level of confidence now with our team,’’ he said. “Play the game, practice, and play the next game. We aim to go about our business.”
The matchup means Lundqvist gets to face former teammate Jaromir Jagr, who scored 54 goals for the Rangers in 2005-06, Lundqvist’s rookie season.
A jovial Lundqvist, a decade younger than the 41-year-old Jagr, said he welcomes the challenge against the 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound Jagr, who has 681 career goals, plus 78 more in the playoffs.
“It’s certainly easy to find him on the ice,’’ Lundqvist said with a laugh. “It’s all about strength with him. That’s why he’s still playing so well. I look forward to seeing Jaromir.”
Brian Boyle, a native of Hingham, Mass., downplayed the showdown, though he conceded that playoff vitriol would likely enter the equation, as it did in 1972, when the Bruins defeated the Rangers in six intense games in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Bruins also stopped the Rangers in the 1970 quarterfinals, though the Rangers won the most recent postseason meeting, defeating Boston in the 1973 quarterfinals in five games. That was a year after Boston raised the Stanley Cup on Madison Square Garden ice, a moment Rangers fans of a certain generation still recall with disgust.
“You have to hate your opponents in the playoffs, that’s the way it is,’’ said the 28-year-old Boyle, a 2003 first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings who has become an integral part of the Rangers. “You know what’s at stake and you have to play with an edge. You just go out and do your job.”
“Players make a name for themselves in the playoffs,’’ he said. “Everything is elevated. And your higher-end guys have added pressure and responsibility, as they should. That’s why they are where they are. Our mind-set is very good.”