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Rangers' duo getting first taste of playoff hockey

by Dan Rosen /

WASHINGTON -- With gauze stuffed in his right nostril and his soaking-wet equipment hanging above him inside the New York Rangers dressing room Thursday morning, defenseman John Moore looked like someone who already had been through a postseason battle.

Turns out the gauze was for a nose bleed, the kind Moore has been getting in dry weather since he was a kid, and the equipment was wet from his sweat after a routine morning skate at Verizon Center.

Moore joked that he already was putting on his playoff face, but of course he doesn't quite know what that will look like because he never has played a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That changed Thursday, when Moore, Derick Brassard and Kris Newbury made their NHL postseason debuts in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Brassard hadn't skated in a playoff game since 2008 when he was with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. He was injured when the Columbus Blue Jackets were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Moore never had been in a playoff game as a professional. He played 20 games with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs in 2010.

Newbury, who is playing because Brian Boyle is hurt, played in the Calder Cup Playoffs last season with the Connecticut Whale.

"It's almost like you need to pinch yourself that you're in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and you have an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup," Moore told on Thursday. "I've really just been on cloud nine these last couple of days. I'm sure my heart will be pumping pretty quick here when we get going tonight, but more than anything I'm excited."

Brassard and Moore, who were traded to the Rangers along with injured forward Derek Dorsett on April 3, each said the one thing they noticed from watching the first two nights of the playoffs is the intensity. They've paid close attention to that.

"Guys are willing to do everything to win the Cup," Brassard told "The little details, board battles, special teams, faceoffs are all important."

Moore said he has learned what he'll have to do by watching the other series.

"Everyone is finishing their hits. Everyone is playing hard," he said. "You look at the goals that were scored, they're all right in the blue paint, where guys are battling. I'm going to have to make sure I'm playing hard, playing tough and protecting the front of the net. It's going to be a battle."

Until now all he's felt is anticipation. The Rangers and Capitals each have been off since Saturday and their series is the last of the eight first-round series to start, 30 minutes behind the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.

However, the extra practice time has been beneficial to Moore and Brassard because it has given them a chance to get an even better working knowledge of the Rangers' systems.

They were tossed into the New York lineup 45 minutes after they arrived at Madison Square Garden on April 3 and went on to play 13 games over the next 25 days. There wasn't much of an opportunity for Moore and Brassard to work out the kinks in practice, but they got that chance over the past three days.

"It's the first time this season we had more than one practice in a row," Brassard said. "I'm really excited. As a hockey player, when you play in junior and you're younger, you dream to play in the NHL, but there's always another dream to win the Stanley Cup and right now it's my first time to have a chance to win it with a really good team. I know we can do a lot of damage."


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