Rangers Reflect On Game One Win, Prepare For Game Two

Jim Cerny
BlueshirtsUnited.com

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While all of the Rangers were present at the MSG Training Center Friday morning, only nine players--including both goalies--took to the ice for an optional 12:00 noon practice.The only players participating who also played in Thursday's 4-1 win over the Flyers in Game One of the Metropolitan Division Semifinal series were Henrik Lundqvist, Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, and Derek Dorsett.

Afterwards several players in the dressing agreed that one of the major keys to the Game One victory was the fact that the Rangers possessed the puck so much more than the Flyers did, and that will continue to be extremely important moving forward in the series.

"I really like the way we controlled the puck for most of the game, caused them to not have it a lot, and when (skilled) guys like that don't have the puck they can't be very effective," explained alternate captain Marc Staal, who played 19:04 and was a +1 Thursday. "When they did have the puck I thought we did a real good job playing as a five-man unit. We did a good job shutting them down most of the night."

The Rangers held Flyers captain Claude Giroux--who was the NHL's third-leading scorer this year--without a point or a shot on goal, while Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers with 29 goals, also had a very quiet night, finishing with a pair of shots. Twenty-goal scorers Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell also were held without a shot.

"When you make their top guys defend, that's a great way to keep them off the scoreboard," added Boyle. "That's just our game plan, get in, get a forecheck with zone time, get that puck back. We had the puck a lot and made them defend. It was huge."

However as well as the Rangers played in Game One, many Rangers echoed Dominic Moore's comment that "the game could have gone either way still" since the score was tied 1-1 in the third period before the Rangers erupted for three goals to pull away. That fact is not lost on the players or the coaches, and as such many said that the team will need to play even better in Game Two.

Of course, the Rangers also expect a deep and talented Flyers team to be better come Sunday, as well.

"I think it's going to be a tough game, I think they're going to come hard," explained Lundqvist, who faced only 15 shots on Thursday. "Whatever happened yesterday, we've moved past that; and sometimes (in the playoffs) the games change a lot from game to game, so you can't just go in with a certain expectation. You have to be ready for anything."

Boyle did add that he believes the Flyers "will be a hungrier team Sunday", and Staal offered that "you have to expect as a series goes on both teams are looking to improve and will improve."

The Rangers will practice at Madison Square Garden Saturday morning, and then will face off with the Flyers in Game Two Sunday at 12:00 noon.

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After playing in only one playoff game last spring due to an eye injury, Staal was asked Friday how much he appreciates the chance to take part in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"In hockey, this is the best time of the year, there's nothing like it, so it was tough to watch last year," explained Staal. "Obviously it's good to be back and competing again in that type of atmosphere. It's a lot of fun."

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The Flyers did not practice on Friday, however their No. 1 goaltender Steve Mason--who missed Game One with an unspecified injury--did take shots from several of the team's reserves at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, and local Philadelphia writers did report that Mason looked good and could very well play Sunday. The Flyers will practice after the Rangers at MSG on Saturday, and likely Mason will be pushed a bit harder in that workout to see if he's ready for a return to the lineup.

Mason told reporters, "It's my first time on the ice in a couple of days, and it's a good step. I felt good." He also added it was his "goal" to play on Sunday.

Neither head coach Craig Berube nor goaltending coach Jeff Reese was available for comment after Mason's workout.