Tyler Motte watched most of the New York Rangers’ first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins from the press box, which is the last place a hockey player wants to be stuck in during the most important time of the hockey year.
But that wasn’t his choice to make after an upper-body injury in April forced him to miss five weeks and the first five games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In this round, he won’t have to wait and watch to get into the action against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I felt ready. I was confident to go out and play,” Motte said about his return ahead of Wednesday’s Game 1 in Carolina. “Obviously really itching to be a part of this. But again, this time of year, if you’re good enough, you’re good enough. You go out and you give everything you got.”
Motte appeared in nine games after he was acquired by the Blue Shirts at the NHL Trade Deadline, but then missed the remainder of the regular season. He said that he felt like he jumped right back into the game when he finally made his playoff debut in Game 6, where he played 9:32.
Tyler Motte appeared in 15:35 of the Game 7 win on Sunday night and he showed why the Rangers went out and picked him up. Paired on the fourth line with Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves, Motte brought his forechecking and penalty kill skills to the ice for New York.
“Just trying to find a role and our team is clicking there pretty good,” Motte said. “Just trying to get involved in a positive way and I don’t think there were too many setbacks in that. My game is fairly easy to get to, fairly simple. Just trying to get your legs back under you there early on in Game 6 and obviously felt better the next night in Game 7.”
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The Rangers could use Motte’s skill set in the second round against the Hurricanes, who have a tough forecheck that helped them defeat the Boston Bruins in round one.
“Obviously it’s important for me to get to my game, get to it early,” Motte said. “We know the style of game that they want to play. We know the style of game that we want to play and it’s just whoever can go in and do it the most is who’s ultimately gonna win.”