Rangers defenseman Ben Harpur skates with the puck behind the...

Rangers defenseman Ben Harpur skates with the puck behind the net against the Bruins in the second period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Rangers decided to keep defenseman Ryan Lindgren out of the lineup again Tuesday, when they hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden. And that meant that seventh defenseman Ben Harpur got to play in his 37th game of the season.

He was ready for the assignment.

He played 14:54 and assisted on Vladimir Tarasenko's first-period goal in the 6-2 victory.

“It's just a one day at a time kind of thing,’’ Harpur said of his being on-call to step in at the last moment if and when the team decided Lindgren should not play. “All that stuff, lineup decisions, whatever, it's out of my control. You know, I'm just coming to work every day to practice, making sure I'm working hard and making the most of those reps. And then, if I am in, then making sure that I'm sharp and I'm ready to go.’’

Harpur, 28, said the mental part of staying ready is probably harder than the physical part, but playing the role of the extra defenseman is something he’s done a fair amount in his eight pro seasons, so he knows the drill.

And given where he started this season — he attended training camp with the Blue Jackets on a professional tryout, and when he didn’t make that team, accepted an AHL tryout with the Rangers’ Hartford farm team — he’s happy to be where he is, even if he’s not among the Blueshirts’ top six defensemen.

“He's done a great job,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of Harpur, who was called up from Hartford in December. “He's come in and earned a job and played well, and we're happy with the way he's doing . . . he's played solid hockey for us.’’

Notes & quotes: With the Rangers clinching a playoff spot Monday night, the conditional fourth-round pick they sent to St. Louis in the Tarasenko/Niko Mikkola trade becomes a third-rounder . . . Buzz Deschamps, of Long Beach, a former draft pick of the Rangers who played for the old Long Island Ducks of the Eastern Hockey League and who has remained on Long Island and been involved with youth hockey on LI for the past 60 years, was presented with the Emile Francis Award, for outstanding service to youth hockey, by the Rangers during the first intermission.

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