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Rangers already preparing for Penguins

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- Moments after the New York Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 2-1, Game 7 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, they weren't taking too much time to celebrate. They were instead preparing to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fresh off their third game in four days, New York's coaching staff was already putting together the game plan for their Metropolitan Division rival.

"We're going to prepare that tonight," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We're battle-tested and we're ready for the next series."

The Penguins finished the season first in the division, 13 points ahead of the second-place Rangers. New York and Pittsburgh split four regular-season games, with each team winning once in the shootout and the Rangers holding a 13-12 advantage in goals scored.

They haven't met in the playoffs since 2008, but the Rangers have a good idea what to expect.

"You know the skill level and depth that they have," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "A great skating team all the way through, so it's going to be a heck of a challenge."

McDonagh headlines a deep New York defense that will face a Pittsburgh team featuring some of the best offensive players in the world.

"If you look on paper, Pittsburgh is probably one of the best teams in the League," Vigneault said. "We're going to have our hands full there."

While New York was playing three games in four nights against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh had time off after eliminating the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday.

"Each playoff round, you've got to raise the level. It's going to be faster, it's going to be more intense. That's the way it goes," Rangers forward Brad Richards said. "This is when it gets real fun."


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