At a glance: The New York Rangers conclude their 2013-14 regular-season schedule with one last trip -- to Montreal of all places. The Bell Centre has been a daunting road venue for the Blueshirts in recent years. Prior to their last visit in November -- a 1-0 shutout with backup netminder Cam Talbot in net -- they went 0-7-1 in the building. Talbot will be back between the pipes as the Rangers face the Montreal Canadiens before beginning their playoff journey next week.
Mac attack: The Rangers received a dose of good news Saturday as top defenseman Ryan McDonagh told reporters that he is 100 percent recovered from a left shoulder injury sustained last week. McDonagh won’t play Saturday, however, as the coaching staff opted to hold him out for an extra game, allowing him more practice time before the postseason begins.
Rest and recover: With home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs already clinched, the Rangers are using Saturday as an opportunity to give some players a bit of rest. Veterans Dan Girardi, Martin St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist will all get the game off, with Justin Falk, Daniel Carcillo and Talbot drawing into the lineup.
First-round foes?: The Blushirts’ first-round opponent may be decided once the puck drops Saturday night, depending on what happens in the afternoon. Following the Columbus Blue Jackets’ loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night, the Philadelphia Flyers have the chance to lock up the third seed in the Metropolitan Division with a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Saturday’s matinee. Both the Flyers and Blue Jackets are currently tied with 91 points, though the Flyers own the tie-breaker with more non-shootout wins.
Montreal’s stake: The playoff-bound Canadiens have plenty to play for Saturday night, with home-ice advantage on the line. The Habs are battling the Bolts for the second seed in the Atlantic Division and a win against the Rangers would boost them above the Lightning heading into Tampa Bay’s season finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. The Habs will be without Alex Galchenyuk, who recently suffered a lower-body injury and is expected to miss the first round of the playoffs.