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Stadium Series night game alters Rangers' routine

by Dan Rosen
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- A morning skate at their suburban training facility typically signifies that the New York Rangers will be heading to midtown Manhattan to play at Madison Square Garden that night.

Not anymore.

The Rangers worked out Wednesday morning at their practice rink. But instead of going home for a nap before heading to the Garden, they're going to a hotel nearby in Westchester County to nap there before going to Yankee Stadium to play their second game in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, this time against the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

"We've never done this before," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "It's a unique situation that is pretty cool to be a part of."

The only Ranger who wasn't on the ice was Brad Richards, but he's expected to play. Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in net. The Rangers' lines and defense pairs also are expected to be the same as they were Sunday, when they beat the New Jersey Devils 7-3 at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers will again be considered the road team Wednesday.

What will change are the elements and their opponent. It's supposed to be colder than it was Sunday, with the temperature expected to drop into the teens, and the Islanders will be getting their first chance to experience the NHL's outdoor game spectacle.

The cold doesn't seem to be too much of a concern right now for the Rangers. Some players may throw on an extra layer of clothing under their equipment, but otherwise they aren't anticipating it to be a factor, especially considering the benches are heated.

"Once the game gets started you're kind of surprised that the cold goes away," Stepan said. "It's going to be cold for warm-ups, but once the game gets started I hope it goes away because I know it's going to be cold; much colder than the first one."

The Islanders obviously are a factor as they have beaten the Rangers in each of their previous two meetings by 5-3 scores.

"It's their first [outdoor] game so they're going to be really excited to get out there, experience Yankee Stadium, the crowd and everything," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We have to make sure there is no letdown from our first game there. We have to be excited and ready to go. We have to have the same excitement that we had going into the first game."

The Rangers were trailing 3-1 in the first period Sunday against the Devils but rallied to score six unanswered goals. The key was learning how to play their up-tempo brand of hockey despite the snowy conditions.

Snow is not in the forecast for Wednesday night so the Rangers anticipate being able to play fast again.

"It's good because we knew we needed to make some skill plays to get back in the game [Sunday] and we were able to do that off of strong defensive plays," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We made some good plays in our own zone that made them get a little aggressive and we were able to counter quickly to get some goals. It was big for us, for our confidence, to know we can put the puck in the net in that atmosphere and we're going to have to against the Islanders."

Here is the Rangers' expected lineup for the outdoor game:

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Daniel Carcillo

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Justin Falk

Injured: Derek Dorsett (broken fibula)


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