Blue Notes

Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.

NYR, Flyers update: Rangers staying hungry, Mason might play Sun.

Flyers' Steve Mason reaches for a shot by

Flyers' Steve Mason reaches for a shot by Rangers' Brian Boyle during the first period of a game on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Philadelphia. (Credit: AP / Matt Slocum)

Both the Rangers and Flyers will be skating at the Garden on Saturday, but it’s just separate practices: The Blueshirts at 11, the Orangeshirts at 12:30.

I’m expecting the same lineup for the Rangers, with J.T. Miller, Dan Carcillo, Raphael Diaz and Justin Falk scratched. Why not? 35-15 in shots. 

The word from Chelsea Piers, where Flyers goalie Steve Mason (upper-body) took shots from a couple of players, was positive, but not definitive. They’ll decide whether Mason starts Game 2 tomorrow if he gets through a full practice. Said Sunday was his “goal”. Hasn’t played since the season finale against Carolina last Sunday.

Here’s the problem: If Ray Emery plays and the Flyers lose to go down 2-0 in the best of seven series, and it turns out Mason could have started, that’s an issue for Craig Berube.  Emery has appeared in consecutive games five times this season, with mixed results.

Speaking of goalies, Henrik Lundqvist was on ice for the optional skate in Westchester, and when he came into the locker room, I kidded him, “More shots in the first 20 minutes than all of last night.”

His response:  “More in the first five minutes.”

The main conversation thread of course, was about how the teams will tweak and adjust for Game 2.

“The cat-and-mouse begins,” said Marc Staal.

Regardless of who’s in nets, “We have to expect a hungrier team,” said Brian Boyle, the right wing on the fourth line that bottled up the Flyers’ top trio of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek. “We need to match that. After two periods, it was still a tight game (1-1) in the third period.”

Vigneault declined to discuss what adjustments he expects from Berube.

“You’re going to have to ask them,” said Vigneault. “They’ll do what they do. They had been very upfront in how they were going to play, and they lived up to their billing. There was some chippiness, a lot of slashing going on. We’re going to play whistle to whistle and we’re going to get out of there when the whistle blows.”

Derek Dorsett said the Blueshirts would play the same way. “We’re not going to be intimidated by them,” said Dorsett. “We can’t shy away, we have to go right back at them.’’ He said his line “had some energy, got pucks deep, we crashed the net and had a number of opportunities, maybe going forward we can put one in.”

Vigneault said the fourth line, which includes center Dom Moore, “plays to their strengths; they’re honest, hard-working players. You have to be able to spread the minutes out if you want to play a good tempo game. Teams that have had success on a pretty regular basis, I’m thinking about the Bruins right now, play four lines.”

***

Vigneault was pleased with the performance of Jesper Fast (one assist, four hits in 11:32) “Other than one situation defensively, where I thought he could’ve been better on the boards, he skated well, finished his checks and made a nice play on the fourth goal”…Derick Brassard and Dom Moore were 16-8 in faceoffs…Flyers were outshot in every period and were called for six penalties.

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The Rangers have fared well in two 12:30 starts, blanking the Red Wings 3-0 on March 9 and beating the Devils 7-3 at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26.  “I’m not overly concerned” about the change in routine, Vigneault said. “We’ll have meetings (Saturday).”       

***

Saw Chris Kreider today in the locker room, holding a football. Asked him if he was switching to another sport. “No, just getting ready for Sunday.” Wisecracker. Guy’s dying to play, but he's not close. He will be well-rested and pumped if the Rangers advance, though.

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What was the biggest issue in the Rangers' Stanley Cup loss to the Kings?

Offense Defense Power play Coaching Something else

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