The Rangers held an optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden Friday morning, with most of the regulars---like Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Marc Staal, and Brad Richards, among others---deciding not to take part as the club prepares for this evening's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Prudential Center.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did take part in the morning skate, coming off Wednesday's 5-3 loss in Game 5 which left the Rangers in a 3-2 series hole and facing elimination at the hands of the Devils tonight.
"It's always exciting to go out in a game where it's all or nothing, keep playing or go home," Lundqvist said this morning. "You just have to see this as a great challenge and a great opportunity instead of just a lot of pressure. That's a really good team we are playing, but we know we can do it."
Instead of hand-wringing and a bad case of nerves, the Rangers seemed quite loose during the morning skate. Anton Stralman tried one-timing shots with a half stick after it broke---and he fell on the ice. Mats Zuccarello celebrated a goal against Martin Biron by jumping into the arms of Mike Rupp---quite the sight considering Zuccarello's tiny physical stature and that of the hulking Rupp.
"I think we are looking at this as a great opportunity and not as a situation filled with a lot of pressure," Stralman said after the skate. "It's fun. We're looking forward to it and feel good about it. We feel great about the team we have, and I think we will play a hell of a game tonight."
Head coach John Tortorella would not discuss his lineup for Game 6, but it would appear that Brandon Dubinsky---who did not take part in the morning skate---will play a second straight game Friday since John Mitchell remained late on the ice with the other scratched players in the morning.
It would also appear that Steve Eminger will return to the Rangers lineup tonight. Eminger came off the ice early this morning while Stu Bickel remained out with the scratches later on.
The Rangers have won all three games this spring in which they faced playoff elimination, beating Ottawa in Game 6 on the road and defeating the Senators and Capitals in a pair of Game Sevens at The Garden. In those three elimination games Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 1.35 goals against average and .948 save percentage.