It's a pretty difficult thing to get 20-30 grown men to agree on the same thing. But in the case of the New York Rangers on Wednesday it is safe to say all the players, coaches, and staff are happy to have put practices behind them because they are ready to get their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with Washington underway finally.
"I can tell the players are just champing at the bit to play," said head coach John Tortorella following a 30-minute on-ice session. "We cut our practice off short today. Let's just get on the plane and get out of here."
After their practice the Rangers did head straight to the airport for a flight to the nation's capital. Many of the players said the excitement to get the playoffs underway is building, with several players adding that watching other NHL playoff games last night really started to get their blood flowing.
The extra days of practice created a min-training camp feel since Monday as the Rangers even had double-sessions worth of practice on Monday and Tuesday, along with extra video sessions to prepare for Washington.
"It affords you time to not group everything into one meeting, so we spread everything out having the extra days," explained Tortorella. "We got a lot accomplished. But we're ready to play, and I'm sure the other team is saying the same thing."
Added team captain Ryan Callahan, "We’re excited to get going. It’s been a good, productive three days, though. Got some rest, got to work on some system things, but now we’re gearing up and we’re ready to get going.”
One of the benefits in the long run of not playing until Thursday could be the extra days of rest and rehab for the injured Blueshirts: Marc Staal, Ryane Clowe, Brian Boyle, and Derek Dorsett. Clowe and Boyle did not practice again on Wednesday, though both will travel to D.C. Dorsett once again skated with the yellow non-contact jersey.
As for Staal, who has been out of the lineup since March 5th due to a serious eye injury, the Rangers alternate captain said that he "probably" would not be able to play in Game One Thursday at the Verizon Center.
The puck drops Thursday night at 7:30 in Washington, the Rangers and Capitals Game One in a best-of-seven. Game On!