New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The waiting, according to Tom Petty, is the hardest part.

The Rangers, who finished off their first-round series against Washington last Sunday, will end up having a full week in between games. Game 1 of their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes is set for 4 p.m. Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s out of our control,’’ Rangers forward Alex Wennberg said of the layoff after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously, we had a few days here, just resting up, and now we’re back to work, practicing and all that. I think how it’s set up right now is perfect. We’re having tough battles in practice and we’re doing all we can, so I feel like we’re staying sharp.’’

It wasn’t until late Thursday night when it was confirmed that Game 1 will be played Sunday. That was because the first-round series between Boston and Toronto was pushed to a Game 7 on Saturday night. As of Friday afternoon, the dates for the rest of the series still were unannounced.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette had to do his best to map out a practice schedule for his team, but the coach likened the time off between rounds one and two to the time off between the end of the regular season and round one. The Rangers closed their season on April 15 and played their first playoff game on April 21.

“I thought our guys handled [the time off] well the first time,’’ Laviolette said Thursday after the Rangers’ hourlong practice. “We did exactly what we’re doing here now. We’re taking three days of practice, trying to make it a bit of a mini-training camp based on us, what we need to do . . . trying to make sure that we get rested and [if] you’ve got guys that are banged up at all, it gives them a chance to recover.

“So it is what it is. I’ve got to make the most of it and go from there.’’

The Rangers were off Monday and Tuesday and held practices Wednesday and Thursday before taking Friday off. They will practice again on Saturday to prepare for Sunday’s series opener.

On Thursday, in addition to doing their standard battle drills, the Rangers worked on countering the things Carolina does best, such as figuring out how to attack its formidable man-to-man defensive system.

“They’re probably one of the best teams that defend that way,” center Mika Zibanejad said. “They’re hard to play against. It’s obviously a challenge, but at the same time, I think we have to just work for each other and try to win when you’re one-on-one, not just on the puck but off the puck as well.’’

The time off isn’t all bad, of course. Rest will prove important if the Rangers make a deep playoff run, as they learned firsthand two years ago.

They went the maximum seven games in both of their first two playoff rounds, won the first two games of their Eastern Conference finals series against Tampa Bay and then ran out of gas and lost the next four.

Defenseman Adam Fox, who had a knee-to-knee collision with Washington defenseman Nick Jensen in Game 4 against Washington last Sunday, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. The Rangers hope he can practice Saturday and be ready for Sunday.

Center Filip Chytil, ruled out for the remainder of the season in late January with a presumed concussion, has been practicing with the team for three weeks and is getting closer to being game-ready.

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