The Rangers already were facing a problem of depth — the Bruins have it and they lack it.

Things didn’t get any better in Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Bruins in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal at the Garden, dropping the Rangers into a 3-0 series hole and to the brink of elimination.

With just under seven minutes remaining in the second period, defenseman Anton Stralman was slammed into the backboards by burly Bruins forward Milan Lucic, dazing Stralman to the point where he could hardly defend Nathan Horton in front of the net as he rang one off the crossbar. Stralman returned for one more shift in the second period but was not on the bench to start the third, and his status going into tomorrow night’s Game 4 is unknown.

“It’s huge,” coach John Tortorella said of Stralman’s loss, both of the Bruins’ goals coming in the third period after he went down. “He has played so well. That’s a big blow to us as far as [matchups] and just our depth within our game.”

* Defenseman Marc Staal skated Tuesday morning, but was not made available to reporters and missed his seventh straight game with his right-eye injury. His possible availability is questionable, at best, as he hasn’t had much full-team practice as of late and has played in just one game — Game 3 of the first round — since suffering his injury on March 5.

After Staal on the depth chart would be Roman Hamrlik or Matt Gilroy.