NEW YORK _ The Flyers appear loose, excited, and confident heading into Wednesday’s Game 7 showdown at Madison Square Garden.
“It never gets old,” veteran defenseman Timonen said a few hours before the decisive game against the New York Rangers. “It’s a big game, but at the same time, it’s a moment you have to enjoy. If you’re able to enjoy this moment, you’re going to be able to play your best.”
The Rangers are also feeling confident.
"There’s no other feeling in your life that is gonna duplicate what a day like this is and what it means when you win, especially on home ice in Game 7,” Rangers center Brad Richards told the New York Daily News. “Really, you could have dropped the puck this morning at nine and we would have been ready, and I’m sure they would have been. It’s a fun day. We just want to get going.”
The Rangers are 5-0 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers have a 9-6 record in Game 7s, New York is 6-5.
“I think you obviously have to control your emotions,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said, “but we want to have lots of energy; we want to play aggressive. It’s important to get skating right away in a game like this.”
Timonen, 39, said the key is to “play our game. We are a good team when we skate and forecheck. Don’t think too much. Go after these guys and go from there. We have to enjoy the moment…because you never know if you’ll ever get to this point.”
Playing in a Game 7 is “what you live for,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, who had a hat trick in the Flyers’ 5-2 win Tuesday. “When you’re young, you’re playing in your driveway, always imagining a Game 7 scenario. Now this is it. This is my first Game 7, so it should be nice.”
And how did his teams do in those imaginary games in his driveway?
“Always winning, obviously,” Simmonds said with a smile.
Meanwhile, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault seemed to be trying to ignite some of his key players, including Rick Nash, who is looking for his first goal in the series..
“I think it’s fair to say whoever’s top players perform the best is probably the team that’s gonna win this game,” Vigneault said.
Vigneault also appeared to be sending a wake-up call to star defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who has had a so-so series after returning from a shoulder injury.
“He’s played some good hockey so far in this series, but I do believe there’s another level,” Vigneault said. “He needs to find that tonight for us.”
Breakaways. Timonen said he was just focusing on Game 7 and not the fact that, if he decides to retire, it could be the final contest of his superb career….The Flyers have killed 20 straight penalties in the series….The Flyers are 6 for 19 (31.6 percent) on the power play, while the Rangers are 3 for 28 (10.7 percent)…..Timonen: “Yesterday was a good step forward; now we have to take even a bigger step.” He added that “the guys are pretty happy and loose, so that’s a good sign.”
My pick: Rangers 3, Flyers 1. Henrik Lundqvist has been the second-best goalie in the series. He’s due to dominate a game.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.