Taking This Series On The Road
The morning after their Game Two loss on home ice to the Flyers, the Rangers held meetings and video sessions at Madison Square Garden Monday before a handful of players took part in an optional on-ice practice. The team then boarded a private Amtrak and trained down to Philadelphia where the Flyers will host the Rangers in Game Three of this first-round series, which is all knotted at one game apiece.
The Rangers lost both of the games they played at Wells Fargo Center this season--2-1 on October 24th and 4-2 on March 1st--and they have lost four of their last five contests played down in Philadelphia dating back to last season. However the Rangers are also a team that set a franchise record this season by winning 25 times on the road, so they will head in to Philly a confident team.
"It's going to be a loud building, and they're going to come," Brad Richards said of facing the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday. "Our regular season road record doesn't really matter unless we can win some road games in this series. That's all we're really looking at. It doesn't matter what we did before. Starting tomorrow we need to go in and try and win a game."
Richards also noted the need for the Rangers to keep raising their levels of play and intensity as the series moves along, something he noted they did not do a good enough job of from Game One to Game Two. Most players mentioned on Monday the need for the Rangers to put forth a more complete effort down in Philly for the third game of the series.
"We have to step it up," noted Mats Zuccarello, who has a goal and an assist so far in the first two games. "It's 1-1 in games, so we have to win one down there. It's as easy as that."
Once again the Rangers will be facing veteran Ray Emery as the Flyers announced Monday that their No. 1 goalie Steve Mason is still not healthy enough to play--or even to dress as Emery's back up--on Tuesday. Emery has been very good in the series, so far. He made 32 saves in the first game and another 31 in Game Two, stopping the final 27 shots the Rangers fired at him on Easter afternoon.
While the Rangers continue to maintain it doesn't matter who the Flyers play in goal, the players have acknowledged that Emery has been very good in the first two games.
"He's played well," Richards said of Emery. "We said it--and I don't know if everybody believed it--we thought either goalie was very capable. Emery fights, has been to a Stanley Cup Final, played well last year on a team that won, so he's a very capable goalie."
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was asked on Monday if he is considering any changes to his lineup for Game Three, and he responded "I'm still in the process of deciding." He did add of rookie Jesper Fast "his overall game was good" on Sunday, Vigneault would not commit to Fast being in the lineup, either.
Vigneault termed his emotion from Sunday's loss "disappointment", and he said that "there's not a lot separating these two teams", setting the stage for quite the finish for what is now a best-of-five.
And that battle for the next victory comes Tuesday in what should be a very hostile atmosphere at Wells Fargo Center.
"They come out a little different (at home), and we know they're a pretty good home team, play well in front of their fans," Brian Boyle said of the Flyers. "It's going to be a pretty fun atmosphere, and we're a pretty good road team. Should be fun."