NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Rangers made the most of their latest two-day break, and are confident it won’t dull any momentum they gained by winning Game 3 over the Flyers.
Instead of staying in Philadelphia after their 4-1 victory on Tuesday night, the Rangers hopped back on a train back to New York. They took the day off on Wednesday and then had a full 45-minute practice on the Madison Square Garden ice on Thursday before packing up again to head south in advance of Friday night’s Game 4.
“We’re fortunate to be close enough to our opponent and we were able to come home for a couple of days,” said forward Derek Stepan, who has two goals and three points in the series. “Anytime you can come home and sleep in your own bed, I think it rejuvenates you a little bit.”
Though only three games have been played in an eight-day span, the series is on its second two-day break. The first extended run after the series opener didn’t benefit the Rangers, who followed up a 4-1 home win with a 4-2 home loss in Game 2.
New York is looking to avoid a repeat.
“We can’t let it,” Stepan said. “We’ve got to make sure that we have the right mindset and we compete for 60 minutes and put a good effort on the ice.”
If they can win again in Philadelphia on Friday, they will come back home with a chance to advance to the second round with a victory on Sunday.
However, if the series goes the full seven games, the final three will be played in a span of four days — with Games 6 and 7 on consecutive days in different cities.
“It’s a little different. There is too much thinking sometime,” forward Derick Brassard said of the longer breaks. “We can learn from Game 2 and the preparation. We had a good practice today. The last practice that we had before Game 2 wasn’t sloppy but it’s just hard for your body to get into it.
“It’s always nice to be home. That’s the fun part of playing division teams. We could come back after the game. But Games 5, 6, 7 are three in four days. So that’s the rest we can have for those games.”
The Flyers stayed in New York during the first long break in the series.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist insisted he isn’t looking past Friday, but he allowed the thought that if the Rangers can stick around a while in the playoffs, any rest now could pay dividends down the road.
“Sometimes you just want to get going and get into a nice flow,” he said. “It’s a little different. You take it, and hopefully we have a long run here, and every day you get off might come in handy later. We got a good practice in, and I feel like we’re ready for (Friday).”
The key for the Rangers is to remain sharp and try to keep the Flyers from regrouping and getting back into the series.
“In Game 2 things got away from us defensively, and it was something we talked about in the couple days leading up Game 3,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh told WFAN radio on Thursday. “In Game 3 we really just beared down and had to win the game in a different style, spent a lot of time in our zone, which we don’t like to do, but we stayed in good position and blocked a ton of shots and in reality found a way to win a hockey game a little bit differently than we did down the stretch here. That’s a sign of a good team, finding a way to win games.”
New York has mastered playing away from home this season, earning its 26th road victory in Game 3.
“We’re treating this game the way we should be treating it. It’s our most important game of the year, so far,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We had a good practice today, we had a good meeting before, good video session. We’re going to Philly and trying to win a hockey game.”
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