NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers need victories as they try to hang onto a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Having lost back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden, they'll try to bounce back when they play their next two games outdoors.
The Rangers face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday and the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Both games will be played at Yankee Stadium as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. After a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Rangers' next practice is slated for Saturday at the stadium, and it's dawning on them what the experience will be like.
"We'll see on Saturday when we get to go there and skate. I think it will start to settle in once we get there," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We'll regroup tomorrow and get back to work."
"Work" is the operative word. While the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium will be unique, back-to-back losses to the Islanders and Blues this week have raised the stakes for the Rangers.
The Rangers enter Friday second in the Metropolitan Division with 57 points, but they're only four ahead of sixth-place New Jersey, which will still have a game in hand after playing the Washington Capitals on Friday. The Islanders are last in the division with 49 points, but have won 10 of their past 14 games.
Considering how tight the division race has become, the Rangers' season could hinge partly on how they perform in the Bronx.
"More importantly, we need two points in both those games. It's getting tight here," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "It will hit us here when we get out and practice. We know it's coming up. It's going to be a good experience."