Rangers hope to rock and roll against Islanders
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, a scheduled day off for the Rangers on Wednesday was a welcome reprieve.
How did they unwind? Most of the team headed to the Canal Room in Soho in Manhattan to watch a charity concert headlined by goalie Henrik Lundqvist and former tennis star John McEnroe as guitarists for the band The Noise Upstairs.
"We had a great time," Lundqvist said.
Consensus from teammates seemed to indicate that Lundqvist's solo riff during the band's cover of the Guns N' Roses' song "Sweet Child o' Mine" was the night's highlight.
The Rangers are hoping to rediscover the right notes on the ice. They have lost two of three heading into Friday's game against the Islanders, a matchup that always features some intrigue. The Islanders have lost their last two, are in danger of falling out of the playoff picture, and will be hungry for a win on home ice. "They've got a lot of pride in their building," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "After a tough loss, we're really looking forward to getting back on the ice."
Coach John Tortorella said the team's lull was a natural result of the ebb and flow of a long season. "Each day that goes by you're trying to get the momentum on your side," he said. "We enter tomorrow night's game and we're going to try to have a much better start."
The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m., so there may be a little more tension in the locker room than usual. Brandon Dubinsky, who has been the subject of trade rumors, jokingly said "no comment" as he entered the room after practice. But other players didn't pin the last couple losses on any trade speculation.
"It's just us not executing against some good hockey teams," Michael Rupp said. "I'll be happy when it's over but it's not a distraction."
Lundqvist provided the sort of welcome distraction the players embraced on Wednesday. He said the sold-out show raised a lot of money for his foundation, "Rock of Dreams," and the selection of songs by the Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Guns N' Roses and others was a hit. He said he might consider making the concert an annual event.
"We have hockey almost 24/7," Lundqvist said. "I think it's important to get away from the game and have other hobbies and do other things. It helps me, it helps my game, too, to just relax and get away from it. Then when I come to the rink I'm more excited, I'm re-energized."