Following their important victory in Game 3 over the Devils on Saturday, the Rangers held an optional practice at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon, one that was significant because healing forward Brandon Dubinsky took part in it.
Dubinsky who skated on his own before Friday's practice---his first time back on the ice since suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 7 of the first round against Ottawa---joined the handful of teammates who took part in Sunday's optional practice at The Garden, and was thrilled afterwards.
"It's nice to be back with the guys," said Dubinsky. "It's nice to shoot some pucks on a goalie. It just feels good to be around and actually get a chance to jump on the ice."
Though happy with where he was at on Sunday, Dubinsky admitted after practice that he had no idea as to when he might be able to return to game action.
Another Rangers forward named Brandon who received a lot of attention on Sunday was rugged winger Brandon Prust. A day after being called a "headhunter" by Devils coach Peter DeBoer for an unpenalized hit that left New Jersey defenseman Anton Volcehenkov shaken up in Game 3, Prust met with the NHL's Department of Player Safety to review the play in question.
Prust then made his way to The Garden for a team meeting an practice, and defended his actions on the play in question.
"I was just trying to get in a check before I was at the end of a shift," Prust said. "I was skating over for a routine check to rub him out and get off the ice and he bailed out of it and turned and kind of went low. It's just kind of a reaction when you're off-balance and your arms go up. I didn't want to do a face-plant into the boards. I had no intent to hit him in the head there."
While Prust was calm in defending himself on Sunday, Rangers head coach John Tortorella wa smuch more passionate in his defense of the hard-working winger.
"Prust has probably 300-plus games without a hearing, anything going on with him," Tortorella said on Sunday. "He's probably one of the most honest players. I look at (Dainius Zubrus') elbow to (Anton) Stralman. I look at (Zach) Parise launching himself at (Michael) Del Zotto. Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we'll get something. We tell our players don't stay down on the ice, get up."
Tortorella then proceeded to launch into a complaint about how the Devils illegally pick Rangers players, to get free for shots, especially on the power play.
"Picking on the power play, set plays, picking on the power play," explained Tortorella. "If we want to start discussing officials with the media, I have a long list here. That's a set play by Jersey. Picking so we can't get to (Ilya) Kovalchuk to block a shot."
This latest war of words between the coaches will almost certainly add to the intensity that will already be in place when the Rangers and Devils meet in Game 4 Monday night at The Prudential Center. The Rangers will be looking to grab a 3-1 series lead with a win on Monday night.