John Tortorella eager to get Rangers-Capitals series started

John Tortorella looks on from the bench in

John Tortorella looks on from the bench in the first period during a game against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. (April 18 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - There's nothing left to say. It's time to play.

"Yeah, we're sick of practicing," Rangers coach John Tortorella said after the Rangers had their third straight day of practice in anticipation of Thursday night's playoff opener against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.

Days off were rare in this lockout-truncated season. So how weird was it for the Rangers and Capitals to have what amounted to a minicamp before the playoffs?

"We're not used to it," Tortorella said. "Especially this year. You're playing every other day. Even the coaches, we're just used to playing. This is the time of the year you should be playing. I'm not complaining, but it's a lot of time. I can tell the players, they're champing at the bit to play. We cut our practice short just to get on the plane and get out of here.

"It certainly wasn't like training camp, but it affords you time to not group everything into one meeting. So we spread our meetings out the first two days. It's not all jammed in. We got a lot accomplished, but you can also hurt your team by practicing too much, especially at this time of the year."

The Rangers and Capitals are well-acquainted; they are meeting in the playoffs for the third straight season and fourth in the last five. The Rangers ousted Washington last season in a thrilling seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series that included a triple-overtime game.

So that gives the Rangers an advantage, right?

Wrong.

"We've got new guys here," captain Ryan Callahan said. "They've got new guys there. It's a new series."

One of the Rangers' new guys is Rick Nash, whose playoff experience is limited to four games with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009 (they were swept by Detroit). Nash will be looking for his first postseason win on a bigger stage than the Blue Jackets can afford a star player.

"I haven't had the biggest amount of [pressure] on me," Nash said. "We'll find out. It's something that all great athletes have done. It's time to step up now."

Notes & quotes: Marc Staal (eye) said he would "probably not" play Thursday night, though a return at some point in the series seems likely . . . Brian Boyle (right leg) and Ryane Clowe (possible concussion) did not practice. Derek Dorsett (clavicle) skated in a non-contact jersey. All four traveled with the team to Washington.

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