New York Rangers and Brooklyn Nets are strongly reminded of their gaps with Boston teams

The moods emanating from different sides of Madison Square have varied widely, for despite all the good things the New York Rangers have accomplished since Captain Jacob Trouba dropped his helmet amid a three-goal loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last year Month threw the boards, their second meeting with the Boston Bruins was a friendly reminder of the rift between the teams.

Since Trouba’s helmet throw, the Rangers have maintained a 14-3-2 record highlighted by a seven-game winning streak and home wins that ended a 15-game point streak for the Toronto Maple Leafs and a 17-game point streak for the Carolina Hurricanes .

On Thursday, the Rangers got a stark reminder of what a team that will make the playoffs looks like against a team that should win the Boston Bruins to win the Eastern Conference.

In the moments after the Bruins clinched a matter-of-fact 3-1 win, the Bruins opted for fairly easy goals via a tip-in, a seamless entry into the offensive zone from stars Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, and a 2-on- 1 – all within the first five minutes of each hour – they were in a lighthearted mood while describing their group as “special”.

Light moments in the Boston area included discussions about Patrice Bergeron getting a night off after taking a puck to the right side of the face on Wednesday, or backup goaltender Jeremy Swayman joking about more media chatting with David Pastrnak would while the two players were talking at the same time.

“We trust everyone, and it makes a difference,” Bergeron said while still bearing a scar on the right side of his face.

Around this time, Rangers complained that they were unable to convert their chances in a game in which they had 32 shots on goal, blocked 24 more and several others missed the net.

“It’s a different game for me when we play the whole game, solid 60 minutes,” said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “For 50 minutes I felt it was pretty even. Both teams had many chances to score and the goalkeepers were good on both sides. But here, too, we gave up those easy goals and that’s not possible.”

The focus for the players was what a dominant team looks like and not necessarily the inability to score.

“They’re a good team,” Jimmy Vesey said before Gallant spoke. “They play right and are patient.”

“We’ve seen what’s best,” Barclay Goodrow said. “It’s up to us to keep building our game and bringing it up to their level. We have big dreams and big goals. After all, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

If the Bruins’ highly organized methods of staying one step ahead of their opponents on either side sound familiar to New York teams, it’s because a week ago another Boston team did something similar.

The Bruins’ methodical victory over the Rangers on the second night of a consecutive duel came a week after the Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets in the fourth quarter en route to a 109-98 victory. Like the Rangers, the Nets entered their encounter with a Boston team on a fine 14-1 run that included a 12-game winning streak that they began immediately after an 11-point loss to the Celtics on Dec. 4 and that Losses began after the Celtics hit 27 3s in MSG to beat the Knicks in the opening weeks of the season.

Unlike the Rangers, the Nets weren’t at full strength like they were in the first game after Kevin Durant sprained his right knee, an injury they thought they could deal with better, though they’re 4-0 since the injury stand after losing 15 of 21 during his left knee injury last winter.

Whether Durant would have made a difference may be unknown, but the gap was palpable as the Nets scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and suffered their ninth straight loss (including the four-game first-round sweep) to the Celtics .

“They want to play against the best team and the way they play they are very close offensively and defensively,” Ben Simmons said last week. “They have some great personalities, but if you sum it up, they play team basketball.”

And like the Bruins, the Celtics are the standard-bearers in a hard-fought Eastern Conference.

The Bruins have an incredible 17-point lead in the Presidents Trophy race, despite being the team with the most points in a regular season since Rangers in 2014-15 and the Stanley Cup Finals since 2012 -13 Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup.

The Celtics are on an eight-game winning streak and have a 1 1/2 game lead over Denver for the NBA’s best record. Last year they used their win as a stepping stone to the NBA Finals and have another good shot at getting there again.

While the Yankees appear to have the advantage over the Red Sox, the city has the edge in pro hockey for now, and possibly for the rest of the regular season, with two major billboards encouraging people to travel near MSG and pro basketball.

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