New York Rangers make most of NHL playoff break at home
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.
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."
Another goalie switch for the Flyers coming up
VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) -- Steve Mason will start Game 4 for the Philadelphia Flyers against the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Mason hasn't started a game since suffering an upper-body injury on April 12. He played the final 7:15 in a 4-1 loss Tuesday night.
The Rangers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series 2-1. Ray Emery started the first three games for Philadelphia. He was pulled after allowing four goals on 20 shots Tuesday night.
Mason hasn't started a playoff game in five years since his rookie season with Columbus. The Blue Jackets were swept by Detroit in that series.
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