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Rangers looking forward to facing Flyers in playoffs

by Tal Pinchevsky

MONTREAL -- The New York Rangers learned shortly before their game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night that they would face the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The matchup was cemented with Philadelphia's 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the afternoon.

Moments after losing 1-0 to Montreal in overtime, the Rangers were finally letting themselves get excited about facing a big division rival in the playoffs.

"We know each other very well. It's always tight, it's always intense with those guys," defenseman Marc Staal said. "Best time of year and we're playing the Flyers. It's pretty exciting."

Despite all the nastiness between two teams separated by less than 100 miles, the Rangers and Flyers haven't met in the playoffs since 1997, when Philadelphia defeated New York in five games in the Eastern Conference Final. They will resume hostilities when New York hosts Game 1 next week at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers are expecting a boisterous home crowd.

"Home-ice advantage is always better. MSG will be rocking," forward Rick Nash said. "It's a huge rivalry. It's going to be a fun one to play in. You play in the regular season games [against Philadelphia] and they're that much more intense than the regular ones. So the playoffs are going to be much more exciting."

Securing home ice could be big for New York. The home team won each of the four regular- season games and the Flyers haven't won at MSG since Feb. 20, 2011.

The Rangers, who've beaten the Flyers eight straight times at the Garden, aren't paying too much attention to those numbers just yet.

"Playoffs is a whole different ballgame. I think you start a series and you don't really look at that at the start," Staal said. "You get down to the end of the series, to games 6 and 7, and there's an advantage to playing at home. We're glad we got [home ice]. It's better to have it than not to have it."

Coach Alain Vigneault gave his players Sunday off to relax before turning their attention to the Flyers. The coaching staff wasn't afforded that same luxury. Moments after losing to the Canadiens, Vigneault admitted that the process of game-planning for the Flyers was about to begin.

"We're going to get to work and figure out our schedule here for the next couple of days," Vigneault said.

How soon before he began getting to work?

When asked, Vigneault simply glanced at his watch before ending his final postgame press conference of the regular season.

"About two minutes."

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