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Garden project set to ramp up

Rangers fans cheer during Game 3 of their

Rangers fans cheer during Game 3 of their first-round series against the Capitals on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. (Apr. 17, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Barring the most shocking development in the history of the NBA playoffs, the last Knicks or Rangers game at the Garden this season will be played Friday at the latest.

That will leave about six months for intensive work on the massive Garden renovation project before the teams return to action.

Garden officials were prepared to deal with the possibility of the Knicks or Rangers advancing deeply into the playoffs, but the fact it appears neither will get past the first round does leave more room in the construction schedule.

The NHL is expected to help by keeping the Rangers on the road for the early part of next season.

In addition to opening in Sweden, the team likely will play a couple of road games in the New York area against the Islanders and/or Devils to regain its bearings, then make a West Coast swing to free more time for work on the radical revamping of the lower bowl.

Work on the upper bowl primarily will be conducted during the summer of 2012, with extra touches such as the bridges over the playing surface set for 2013.

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