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Nash, Rangers Ready For Isles Showdown

After a day off on Thursday, the Rangers arrived early Friday morning at the MSG Training Center---first for the official team photo and then for a spirited up-tempo practice. And with Friday's doings quickly out of the way the team was able to start looking ahead to their critical game Saturday night on Long Island agaist the Islanders, a contest pitting the seventh (Isles with 46 points) and eighth (Rangers with 44 points) place teams in the Eastern Conference.

"What more could you ask for?," Rick Nash asked after practice on Friday. "Both teams are desperate for points. It's going to be a battle. It's fun to play in games that mean a lot, not only for the points, but for the rivalry, as well. It's going to be a fun night."

There is no doubt that the Nassau Coliseum will be rocking Saturday night, with both Rangers and Islanders fans filling the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike for what is the first really signifcant late season game between these two teams in six or seven years.

The Rangers, who are 4-1-1 in their last six games, know they will be facing a young confident team that's on a roll and hungry for a playoff berth when they skate against the Islanders Saturday. The Isles, coming off Thursday's 2-1 win up in Boston, are 8-1-1 in their last ten games.

"It'll be a great atmosphere, for sure," said Ryan McDonagh. "It always is there. The fans seem to be right on top of you, and it can get loud there. And it's a big game for both teams. I'm looking forward to it."

Despite the proximity of how close these two teams are in New York, and what an intense rivalry there is between the fans of each team, the bottom line is that each club needs the two points at stake Saturday night. With only eight games remaining for the Rangers and seven for the Islanders, points are beyond crucial right now. 

So in the end, despite the trappings around this game, the bottom line for the Rangers is to win Saturday night no matter who the opponent may be.

"A couple of weeks ago I was looking at games as a must win, so now there's no question we have to win games to get points," noted Nash, who has scored seven goals in his last 11 games. "Now the only thing we need is two points. That's it."

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Feeling as though his lines had grown "stale", head coach John Tortorella juggled his forward combinations during Wednesday's 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs, and did so again at practice on Friday.

"I'm trying different things with our lines because I thought we were stale offensively," explained Tortorella. "It wasn't one particular guy I was trying to change."

Here's how the Rangers skated at practice on Friday:

Nash-Stepan-Callahan

Boyle-Richards-Clowe

Hagelin-Brassard-Zuccarello

Asham-Powe-Pyatt

Share your thoughts below on tomorrow's big match up with the Islanders, as well as the new-look line combinations.

Apr 12 - 4:38pm
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