Mike Rupp will play in his sixth career Game 7 playoff match Saturday and the excitement has yet to wane for the veteran forward.
"It just feels different," Rupp said after the Rangers' morning skate. "Like it's a birthday or something, just a special day on the calendar. You approach it in the same way but we all know what a special night and opportunity it is for players to play in a Game 7."
Rupp has played in some memorable deciding games -- he tallied the clinching goal to secure the Stanley Cup for the New Jersey Devils in 2003 -- and knows what to expect from the nerves and emotions.
But he witnessed a calm group following the team's morning practice -- Bob Marley was humming from the dressing room speakers -- and believes that to be a good sign heading into tonight's test.
"It's important to be loose and joking around and our team has a lot of that going on, so that's a good thing," Rupp said. "I found when I was younger, I'd kind of gauge the older guys and see how they were. I think you could go out and get too fired up, so you have to channel that in a certain way."
Rupp is not the only Rangers veteran with a handful of Game 7's on his resume; Ruslan Fedotenko has also played in five and boasts a pristine 5-0 record with three goals and one assist.
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Although goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did not participate in the team's optional morning skate, as he usually does, coach John Tortorella said he was "just dandy."
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Brandon Dubinsky has shed the walking boot he was wearing on his injured right foot and although he politely declined to discuss his timeline, appears to be making progress. Given his time off the ice, however, it is unlikely he'd be able to play at any point during the Eastern Conference finals should the Rangers advance.
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Washington's Jay Beagle, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury, is a "game-time decision" according to Caps coach Dale Hunter. Should he be unavailable to play, veteran pivot Jeff Halpern will replace him in the lineup.