BOSTON — Thank goodness hockey is back.
The Boston vs. New York rivalry was in need of a major boost.
That infusion of energy arrived last night in the way of a 3-1 Bruins victory over the New York Rangers. And it’s about time.
After all, the Red Sox lost 13 of 18 games vs. the Yankees on their way to last place in the AL East in 2012.
The Patriots outscored the Jets, the laughingstock of the NFL, a combined 78-45 in two games this season.
Yes, Celtics/Knicks is decent but, but no one will confuse their rivalry with the likes of Celtics/Heat and Celtics/Lakers.
Rangers vs. Bruins, on the other hand — now we’re talking.
This rivalry should provide oodles of excitement this year. It certainly did last night when Shawn Thornton punched Mike Rupp to the ice after a lengthy fight, then Gregory Campbell and Stu Bickel got into their own slugfest immediately after the next puck dropped.
The game was a close one the whole way here at the TD Garden with the Bruins prevailing on goals by Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille and Johnny Boychuk.
Welcome back hockey. Welcome back Bruins/Rangers. We missed you.
Both these physical opponents should finish in the top three of the Eastern Conference without question and make deep runs in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Bruins are No. 1 in the NHL.com Super 16 power rankings, while the Rangers are third. ESPN NHL power rankings for Week 1 have the Rangers No. 2 and tops in the Eastern Conference with the Bruins fifth overall and third best in the conference behind New York and Pittsburgh.
Rangers center Brian Boyle, who was born in Dorchester and is a big Red Sox fan, said the best New York/Boston rivalry he experienced growing up was Sox vs. Yanks.