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Rangers Take an Extra Day Before Returning to Action

Playing three overtimes doesn't hurt so much when you win

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Richards and the Rangers landed a major blow on Wednesday night.

    When the schedule for the Rangers-Capitals series was first released, there were some groans about an extra day off between Games 3 and 4.

    You aren't going to be hearing any groans now that the day is here and the Rangers are able to take it easy instead of getting back onto the ice. Something about playing for 114:41 in Wednesday night's epic three overtime win that makes it easy to justify hitting the snooze button a couple of extra times.

    Ryan McDonagh has the most reason to thank the scheduling office. McDonagh played 53 minutes on Wednesday, almost all of them against Washington's best forwards, and took a big, clean hit from Matt Hendricks in the first overtime session.

    He also blocked several shots, threw checks at Caps skaters and did a little bit of everything else the Rangers needed to win the game. That made it exactly like every other Rangers game of the season, outside of the fact that it was almost twice as long with a lot more at stake than two points in the standings.

    After playing a game like that, it is worth wondering whether fatigue is going to be a problem for the Rangers on Saturday. While there are surely some tired bodies out there, it is notable that the Rangers looked like the far fresher team in the minutes leading up to Marian Gaborik's game-winner.

    That's not exactly what you'd expect thanks to the Caps balancing their ice time while John  Tortorella rides some of his lines far more than others. But it certainly seemed like the Rangers had a bottomless well of energy to draw from on Wednesday night while the Capitals were running on empty.

    It doesn't fit from that perspective, but it certainly fits from the perspective of the Rangers team that we watched all season. McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan and others were tireless in their efforts to get the team victories back in January so it makes all the sense in the world that they would find the reserves they needed to get a win in the postseason.

    Historically, teams that win games like the one the Rangers won on Saturday tend to win the series. It's just one game, but it feels like much more.

    The Capitals threw everything in the world at the Rangers on Wednesday and they couldn't break through Henrik Lundqvist's shell. That's exhausting mentally on top of physically and that exhaustion is much less likely to go away during the gap between games as you keep thinking about the way Game 3 ended.

    Much work remains for the Rangers, but their ability to survive on Wednesday should serve them very well as they make their way through the rest of this series.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.