Gerard Gallant eager for Rangers to return to action Wednesday: 'I know the players are looking forward to it'

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Gerard Gallant podium Rangers backdrop
Gerard Gallant podium Rangers backdrop

The Rangers entered the NHL’s holiday break with a record of 19-7-4, with their 42 points just two back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Now that the Blueshirts are finally set to get back on the ice on Wednesday night against the Florida Panthers following a 12-day layoff, head coach Gerard Gallant is eager to see how his team responds in their first action back on the ice.

“If it was just our team it would be different, but since it’s the whole league and the team we’re playing is [in] the same boat, I mean I don’t know what the first period is going be like tomorrow night, but it will be interesting to see, and again, they’re in the same boat. There could be some mistakes both ways, it could be a real good period. I don’t know what to expect to be honest with you. But I’m looking forward to it. I know the players are looking forward to it.

“Overall, it will be good for us.”

The holiday break was part of the schedule from the get-go, but it started two days earlier than originally planned as COVID cases soared in the NHL, and all pro sports leagues for that matter.

But the Rangers did their best to take advantage of the time away to rest, and now that they’re back on the practice ice, they're preparing to move forward full steam ahead into the remainder of the schedule.

“You try to take advantage of a break when it happens, but it was a little bit too long for everybody’s liking, obviously. You get a chance to work on different stuff. We had lots of time to do our power plays, lots of time to do some D-zone stuff and neutral zone stuff today. It’s good for that aspect of the game, but again, we all like to play the games. … You make the best of it, and so far, it’s been good.”

The Panthers come into Wednesday night’s game just two points behind the Rangers in the East, and they should offer a solid test as things get back into full swing.

“Continue the same pattern: play good hockey, be ready to play a 200-foot game every night, and like I said, it seems like it’s been a long break, so those 30 games are gone, forgotten,” said Gallant. “Let’s make sure we’re a real good team the next 52 games or whatever is going to be played and go from there.”