The New York Rangers have overcome challenges all season. The Stanley Cup Final should be no different. Head coach, Alain Vigneault, had his hands full all year, and the load he's carrying hasn't gotten any lighter. His team is staring down the barrel of a gun, so to speak. One false move and the season ends with a conference championship and nothing more. Vigneault is doing his best to move the team towards the Cup, not all decisions are popular.
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT
Q. You've said before you've played well in this building the first two games, but it didn't come across, surrendered the two-goal leads. How do you prevent that kind of event while still playing well?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, you know, the three games that we've played in this building, we've played well. We've played well throughout the year on the road. We just had a two-goal lead and were able to hang onto it. I'm feeling good about our chances tomorrow. We know that we can play better than we did yesterday. That's what we're going to try and do.
Q. I know Darryl is not a big believer in momentum from game to game. I was wondering your take on it, whether you think anything can carry over at the start of the next game.
COACH VIGNEAULT: No, I mean, for us tomorrow is basically the same scenario we had yesterday. If we intend to continue to play this year, we have to win. So I expect, you know, a solid game from our group. We play well on the road. I expect us to play a real smart game and give ourselves a chance.
Q. What were some of the takeaways from the new line combinations you had in Game 4, some of the positives?
COACH VIGNEAULT: You know, for half of the game I was pretty pleased with how, at both ends of the rink, we were able to defend and generate some good chances. The second half of the game I thought they had a strong push. Our goaltender permitted us to hang on and find a way to win that game. If there are enough positive signs from that game for me to not make any other changes, stay tuned tomorrow at 5:00 and find out.
Q. Just how tough of a decision was that, to drop Richards in the lineup? How did you see him respond or handle that?
COACH VIGNEAULT: First of all, Brad's a team-first guy. I mean, as a coach, and especially at this time of the year when you don't get a lot of these opportunities, sometimes you got to make decisions that might be a little tough to make on a personal aspect. But on a team aspect, you have to. I just felt that certain guys were playing a little bit better than Brad. You know, that's the way it is.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at the video of last night's game? If so, what did the third period look like watching it a little closer?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I had five hours and a half coming down, so I've watched it a couple times. They had a strong push. I mean, they're a good team. They threw a lot of pucks at the net. There's always bodies at the net. It makes it real challenging for your team defensively. I thought for the most part offensively we didn't have much of a push. But we defended I thought in the third better than we did in the second, where in the second after they scored that goal we sort of played on our heels a little bit. We gave up a few rush chances. That didn't happen in the third, so... You know, we found a way to win. We had no choice. We have no choice tomorrow.
Q. This morning Justin Williams said any talk about hockey gods or puck luck is a cop-out. Those 50/50 plays do exist. How do you prepare your team for dealing with the unknown or unexpected, mentally if anything else?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Anybody that's been in this game for any amount of time knows that there's battles on the ice and sometimes whether you call it hockey gods or hockey plays or whatever, like when Dan was shooting the puck from the point and the knob of his stick stays in his hand, you can call that a hockey play or you can call it whatever you want. It doesn't matter to me. Those are things that happen. Bounces happen during the game. Hopefully by being in the right position with the right frame of mind, the right understanding of the game, you can be on those bounces the right way, whether they be defensive plays or offensive plays.
Q. Nash has played well but hasn't been able to get on the score sheet. Is there anything else you can do, that needs to happen, to get him more involved to get on the board, or does he just need one to go in?
COACH VIGNEAULT: No, I mean, he's doing everything that I think you want from a player. He's going to the tough areas. He's shooting the puck. He's going hard on the forecheck. He's being physical. He's creating turnovers. You know, all I can say right now is I got to believe by playing the way he is right now, he will get rewarded. I'm hoping that's going to be tomorrow.
Q. How difficult is the Jeff Carter line with the Kings? Seems like they've caused a lot of matchup problems last night.
COACH VIGNEAULT: Last night they were, without a doubt, especially on that second period there, with their outside speed, they were a real force. It happened a few times when that line was on, we didn't manage the puck the way we were supposed to, they're coming one way, we're going the other. It's tough for any forward, Ds or forwards, to be able to handle that speed. We're very aware of it and we're going to try to do a better job tomorrow.