NEW YORK (WFAN) — Rangers forward Martin St. Louis is finally comfortable in New York, just in time for his introduction to one of the fiercest rivalries in the NHL.
St. Louis has played a grand total of 18 minutes against the Philadelphia Flyers since being traded to the Blueshirts last month. The former Tampa Bay Lightning captain will see a whole lot more of them when the Rangers and Flyers drop the puck on their opening round playoff series Thursday night.
“Obviously everybody is pretty excited about getting this on the way,” St. Louis told WFAN radio’s Mike Francesa on Tuesday. “I’m new to this, but I’ve seen the rivalry from a distance between the two teams, so I’m excited to be in the middle of it.”
St. Louis won a Stanley Cup championship with the Lightning in 2004. In all he’s recorded 68 points in 63 career postseason games.
“I’d like to say that I play hard every game, but I think there’s another level that I can get to in the playoffs,” he said.
St. Louis admitted it was a bit of an adjustment coming to New York after more than a decade in Tampa Bay. But he’s past that transition period and ready to build on a strong end to the regular season.
“I think that this team has been playing really well,” St. Louis said. “From the time I got here, I really feel like we play a playoff-style hockey. It’s not one of those things that we’ve got to turn the switch on in the playoffs.”
The Rangers may have caught a break on Tuesday when the Flyers’ No. 1 goalie, Steve Mason, couldn’t finish practice after sustaining an upper-body injury Saturday against Pittsburgh. Philadelphia coach Craig Berube said Mason was uncertain for Thursday’s series opener at Madison Square Garden.
The New York-Philadelphia playoff rivalry dates to 1974, with the teams meeting in 10 series since. The Flyers have won six times, including the last three. The teams last met in the postseason in the 1996-97 Eastern Conference finals, a series Philadelphia took in five games before being swept in the Stanley Cup finals by Detroit.
The Flyers have won 27 of 47 playoff games against the Rangers.
“It’s an exciting time of the year for 16 teams, not just us,” St. Louis said. “Everybody’s doing these radio interviews somewhere else, and everybody believes that their team has a great chance to win. You’ve just gotta go out there and earn it every game, and that’s what we’re going to try to do in Game 1.”
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