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The Boston Bruins have clawed their way back into playoff position in the Eastern Conference. But they face a roadblock this Thursday night when they host the New York Rangers, one of four very strong teams in the Metropolitan Division. NBCSN has the coverage starting at 7 PM ET.

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Boston’s fortunes have improved since they fired head coach Claude Julien three weeks ago. The Bruins won six of their first seven games with Bruce Cassidy taking over on an interim basis, putting them in third place in the Atlantic Division following Monday’s action. However, the Rangers are also on a hot streak, and they’d be in first place if they were in the Atlantic.

The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 PM ET, so there could be some major personnel changes on both sides of this matchup. Meanwhile, reports at press time say the Rangers have traded two draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings for defenseman Brendan Smith, a solid role player who blocks shots and handles the puck well. The projected starters for Thursday are the usual No. 1 netminders: Tuukka Rask (.912 save percentage) for Boston, and Henrik Lundqvist (.912 SV%) for New York.

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