The brisk air has officially befallen New York, and the Rangers welcomed the chill, along with a crowd of fans, during an open practice on Saturday in Central Park.
Not even a bitter breeze could sour the day for the Rangers, who had their friends and family congregate at Lasker Rink to enjoy the way hockey was originally played, outdoors. Season ticket holders filled the stands and other fans congregated by the fence to catch a glimpse of their 2019-20 Rangers.
“I mean, you compare this to going to the practice rink like we do every day, this is, I think, exciting for everyone,” Henrik Lundqvist said after practice concluded. “Just to try something new. Just being out on an outdoor rink is a cool experience, but also to have the fans here on a great sunny day in Central Park, I really enjoy it. It doesn’t get old to me. I appreciate what the organization does for us players and also for the fans, try to do something special.”
Lundqvist mentioned how, despite most hockey players growing up and skating on outdoor rinks, it always means just a little more to do it at the professional level. He took notice of how loose the team was while practicing in the outdoor setting, noting that these are the times for players to soak it all in.
“I think it reminds you a little bit of why you started playing,” Lundqvist said. “You can see during practice a lot of laughter, a lot of ‘enjoy the moment’ type of thing, and then in the end [coach David Quinn] kind of ‘let’s reset the last 10 minutes and get going.’ ”
Quinn was determined to make sure the outdoor practice was productive for the 7-6 Rangers, as they prepare to face the Panthers on Sunday.
“It was fun, it was a balancing act of having some fun and getting something accomplished,” Quinn said. “It’s a great environment to be out here with, but I think as a player you lose your focus just a little bit. I thought we dialed in a little bit for that last drill and felt like we got something accomplished.”
The Rangers announced Marc Staal underwent surgery on his ankle Friday night after he had contracted an infection.
The veteran defenseman is going to be sidelined for at least two weeks before the team re-evaluates him. Quinn said the infection “came on pretty quickly” and stemmed from a shot he blocked a few weeks ago.
“He was very fortunate to get to the hospital and have it taken care of,” Quinn said.
Mika Zibanejad is officially out for Sunday’s matchup with the Panthers and is still considered day to day, per Quinn.
No. 93, who is still battling an upper body injury he sustained from a hit in their loss to the Bruins on Oct. 27, skated on Friday but the Rangers elected to keep him off the ice Saturday. Quinn said it’s like Zibanejad “takes a step forward and then a step back.”
Credit: Source link