Rangers Open Practice takes place Saturday at noon at Central Park’s Lasker Rink, between 106th and 108th streets. Doors open at 11 a.m. Enter at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue.
You’ve rarely seen the Rangers like this.
On Saturday, the New York City hockey team will ditch Madison Square Garden for Central Park, where fans can watch their favorite players sweat it out in an outdoor practice at Lasker Rink.
“Other teams have come to New York and have practiced in Central Park, and I’ve always been a little jealous,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal tells The Post. “It’s cool that we finally get to do it.”
The public practice — the first en plein air the team has hosted in more than a decade — will serve as a warm-up to the Rangers’ outdoor Winter Classic game against the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field on New Year’s Day. But Staal says that the Central Park venue will allow enthusiasts to experience hockey “in its purest form,” and offer a more intimate experience between the Rangers and their fans.
“The fans who come will probably be really close [to us],” says Staal, citing the Lasker Rink’s small size compared with the Garden’s.
Retired Rangers legend Adam Graves, who will be hosting 40 youth athletes from the after-school nonprofit Ice Hockey in Harlem for the event, says that watching a practice can be as exciting as attending a live game.
“You quickly realize how skilled every player is,” says Graves. “You go up and down the lineup, and every guy can shoot a puck, every guy can skate, and you also see [goalies] Henrik [Lundqvist] or Ondrej [Pavelec], and instead of facing 30 shots like they do in a game, they’re facing a hundred shots.”
Graves will be pushing a puck around with the Ice Hockey in Harlem kids before the Rangers take the ice, but, he says, “as soon as the big guys come on, I get out of the way. I’m probably one of the biggest fans: I’ll be watching along with everyone else.”