Rangers coach Gerard Gallant looks on during the first period...

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant looks on during the first period of an NHL preseason game against the Bruins on Sept. 28, 2021, at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Corey Sipkin

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The post-All-Star break portion of the season for the Rangers begins Tuesday, when they host the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden. And after four straight days of practicing, the players are eager to get it going.

"Yeah. Four days straight of practices, zero days off between,’’ forward Artemi Panarin joked after practice Monday.

The Rangers haven’t played since Feb. 1, when they beat the Florida Panthers, 5-2. That win improved their record to 30-13-4 and put them in a tie for most points (64) in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes. While inactive over the last two weeks, they’ve slipped to third in the division, behind first-place Pittsburgh and second-place Carolina.

They have a three-point advantage over fourth-place Washington and have three games in hand on the Capitals, having played 47 games to Washington’s 50.

With 35 games left, the Rangers are in excellent position to end their four-year playoff drought. And coach Gerard Gallant doesn’t think his team needs to change much to do that.

"No, just continue to do what we’re doing,’’ Gallant said. "I like where we’re at in the standings. We’re playing hard. We’re working hard . . . We’ve had four good days of practice. So everybody should be ready.’’

Twenty of the Rangers’ remaining 35 games will be at home.

"We’ve played well in our building,’’ Gallant said. "We’ve had some letdowns — a bad period here, a bad period there — but overall, we’ve got a great home record [15-4-2].’’

The first half of the season went about as well as could be expected for the Rangers. They were relatively healthy, losing top-nine winger Sammy Blais to a torn ACL but otherwise avoiding extended absences by key players. They also weren’t decimated by COVID-19 the way some other teams (such as the Islanders) were. When they went through their outbreak, it was after the NHL had lowered its quarantine period from 10 days to five, and they made it through with minimal disruption.

All of which helps explain why Panarin, the team’s leading scorer with 52 points (13 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games, is having so much fun.

"I just enjoy it every day, honestly,’’ he said. "We have a pretty good team, and the most important piece probably is in the locker room. There’s great energy, and then only great guys. It’s maybe the first team where I’ve been like that.’’  

Blue lines

Panarin won’t get a chance to play against Bruins agitator Brad Marchand. The last time the teams met, in November, Panarin was fined $5,000 for throwing his glove at Marchand. Marchand was suspended for six games by the NHL last week for punching Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry . . . Gallant said he wasn’t sure if he’ll have defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who missed the last four games because of personal reasons, available Tuesday, but he said Nemeth has "had four good days of practice.’’

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