GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Rangers remember how they felt when Flyers tough guy Daniel Carcillo dropped the gloves with Marian Gaborik on Jan. 21 and landed several blows on the Rangers' top scorer.
Vinny Prospal called the breech of hockey fighting etiquette "gutless." Coach John Tortorella called it "embarrassing." Goalie Henrik Lundqvist said, "We'll remember this for sure. He should be ready for it."
Hockey people don't like it when a fighter goes after a non-fighter - even if Gaborik did drop the gloves first. That's why Tortorella screamed at Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and why the Rangers swore to put the incident in their memory banks.
Well, here we are nearly two months later, and the Flyers will be at the Garden Sunday for a 3 p.m. faceoff.
Were the Rangers working on the punching bag instead of the power play at yesterday's practice? Were they foaming at the mouth to get another shot at the Flyers?
Actually, no. Tortorella said vengeance would have to take a back seat to pragmatism. The Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot with 14 games left and can't afford to settle personal scores with so much on the line.
"This team is focused on trying to play the best it can be and trying to get two points," he said. "A lack of discipline one way or another where you sit in the box where they have a really good power play - I'll just speak for our team - it can't happen. It can't happen. So we are just focused on trying to be the best we can be come Sunday afternoon and find a way to beat this club."
By "beat this club," Tortorella doesn't mean about the head and face - even if the Flyers try to goad the Rangers into taking a machismo-based penalty.
"This time of year, you need to take a hit to make a play," he said. "You need to take a rap in the head if you have to without instigating. It's usually the guy who does it the second time, he ends up sitting in the box. We cannot afford to do that. We're going straight ahead. We're going to play as hard as we possibly can, but you cannot lose the focus of what this is about. This is about trying to get two points. The way our games have been - very close - you can't put yourself in that type of situation where you hurt the team."
Notes & quotes: Tortorella on whether Sean Avery will be a healthy scratch again today: "I'm not sure what the lineup's going to be."