Last night’s game between the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens was a heartbreaking loss for the Rangers. The game was crazy going both directions as far as odd goals being scored. Another issue was the diving or embellishments, if you will, by the Canadiens. Thomas Plecanek finally got caught cheating his way to earning his team power plays, next up is Subban. Another big take away from last night’s game; John Moore’s hit on Dale Weise. The two went back and forth with each other through most of the game and Weise got caught with his head down. Moore played a really solid game for the Rangers and was tossed out of the game after the hit. The referees seemed to go a little over board considering their lack of action with the Brandon Prust hit on Derek Stepan. Here’s what some of the team and coach Vigneault had to say this morning about everything.
Q. This is going to be your 20th playoff game coming up in this postseason. I’m wondering is it possible that a team can run out of gas emotionally, mentally?
DAN GIRARDI: I don’t think that’s an issue for us. Obviously, last night didn’t look great, but we all feel great about where we are here in the playoffs and we still have a great opportunity going into tomorrow night to finish it off here. We have to look at it that way. Win a game at home, and go to the Stanley Cup Final.
Q. You guys looked good in Game 7s and you’ve faced elimination recently. How do you handle that when you want to close out a team like last night, tomorrow night?
DAN GIRARDI: Yeah, it’s been kind of a struggle for us to get that deciding game. You go back to Game 6 in Philly and have a chance to do that too, couldn’t get that done. But I think as a group we’ve been through quite a bit here even though it’s only been 20 games. I think we all know what we have to do to be successful tomorrow night.
Q. How do you get over a game like last night? Is it easier to put behind you because it was such a strange game or is it more difficult?
DAN GIRARDI: I think no matter how the game before goes, you have to have a short-term memory in the playoffs. The great thing about this game is we’re able to come back one night later and be able to right the ship and forget about everything. That’s what we’re going to have to do is kind of forget about that one, travel home today, and come ready tomorrow morning for a good skate.
Q. How much does having the next game at home mean to you guys?
DAN GIRARDI:Q It’s a great opportunity for us to be in front of our home fans and feed off that. Obviously, I think last night wasn’t a great game, but we did a pretty good job of winning two out of three in a tough building, and that’s very hard to do here. We need to win two or three at home to get the series taken care of. If you look at it that way, we’re in a pretty good position here. Like I said, we just haven’t had a great start at home.
Q. What was the feeling for you guys when you see Henrik get pulled?
DAN GIRARDI: Obviously, you don’t want to see that in any game, let alone a playoff game. We didn’t give him too much help, and obviously. A.V. felt that was the right move just to get him out of the game. We didn’t feel great about that, but we couldn’t just sit there and mope around about it. We had to do something about it. We did. We came back and tied it.
Q. You guys are going to be playing in your 20th playoff game already on Thursday. Is that wearing on you guys emotionally or maybe mentally? Is it possible to have a mental weapon, I guess?
BRAD RICHARDS: I don’t think so. It’s an opportunity to win the game to go to the Stanley Cup Final. I think everybody is alert and ready that way. We were talking about it all day how excited we were to get on the ice and start playing. Obviously, we had some mental breakdowns, but I don’t think it had anything to do with that, no matter how much we played. We’ve had a lot of rest this series, and the opportunity that faces us right now, we’re pretty excited about it, so I don’t think there is too much letdown.
Q. For the first time you’ve been in these playoffs, did you lose your composure with the other team?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, we lost our composure in all areas of the game. There are a lot more problems losing our composure in our stretch of the game, getting into whatever you call that game. I don’t see many of those games in playoffs. But you get into that where we were just cheating and hoping, and some of it was a product of being down 4-1. But even as we were getting momentum there, we were still doing it and playing with fire that way. Just the whole structure of the concept, we just broke away from it for whatever reason and never got back into it.
Q. You guys were down 3-1 to the Penguins, how did you guys build belief?
BRAD RICHARDS: Anything we can learn? Yeah, you learn a lot from it. That’s why experience is experience. You go through many situations. Last night was a bad feeling, but today we’re getting on a plane to go back to our city and we get to play in front of our fans. Tomorrow is game day again and another great opportunity to win a game on home ice to play for the Cup. It’s always — forget as quick as possible and try to remember the good things that we’re doing. It was one bad night, but we’ve been doing a lot of good things in this series.
Q. How do you build from game to game in terms of belief and not feeling the pressure or whatever?
BRAD RICHARDS: It has nothing to do with us right now. You’re asking how the Montreal Canadiens are going to do that. You can ask them. I’m not going to tell them how they should feel.
Q. You’ve been around Hank long enough, when he takes the ice tomorrow night what will his mentality be after last night?
BRAD RICHARDS: I think you guys all see how competitive he is, and that’s not going to sit well. Even when he plays good, he’s focused. I would imagine we’re going to see one of his better performances, especially going back to his crowd and wanting to rebound from that. It’s not something we’ll have to worry about. We always know he’ll regroup.
Q. This team seemed to play better with a sense of desperation. How do you create that still knowing there is another game if you don’t win tomorrow?
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, you’ve got to try to create it the best you can. But I think in this situation, to win a game you go to the Stanley Cup Final. You know, it’s a desperate time. You don’t want to go back to a Game 7 where anything can happen. We want to get this done, and we did last night too. We had already won two in a row in that building, and they’re a good team in that building. They’re a good team anywhere. They got one on us, and that’s just the way it goes. But we’re going to have to be a lot better, and we will be. The opportunity in front of us should create all the desperation that we need.
Q. Some of the hits in this series, is that a function of any growing animosity of the two teams or is it just the stage?
BRAD RICHARDS: It’s probably just hockey, just things happen.
Q. You said it’s your crowd you’re going back to. How much do you appreciate that you’re going back there knowing everyone’s on your side?
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, like I said, an amazing opportunity to clinch a game to go to the Stanley Cup Final in front of your home crowd. It’s been two tight games there though. It’s been overtime both times. But we still feel good. We’ll get our match-ups and have our energy with the crowd. You saw how they drew energy off their crowd last night. I keep repeating, it’s an amazing opportunity that if we were given anything to do to start the season to win a game on home ice to go to the Stanley Cup Final.
Q. How much concern do you have that maybe Montreal has a lot of life after a game like that?
MARC STAAL: Yeah, you win a game and things change in your locker room and you start feeling better about yourselves. Yeah, obviously, we know how it feels coming back in a series like that, but it doesn’t change anything in our room. We were as confident as ever going into our building and looking forward to it.
Q. How do you guys, when you’re in Game 7s and facing elimination, how do you duplicate that urgency?
MARC STAAL: Yeah, hey, you’ve got to replicate that desperation. I think our mood and attitude for the game, we were ready to go last night for reasons. Crazy game, and we just couldn’t get ahold of it. We’ll obviously regroup today and wake up tomorrow and get excited and relish that opportunity at home to try to win the series.
Q. Last night, obviously, there were a lot of defensive break downs. How do you, when you try to repair those in a game time, is it adjustments or is it a question of going back to the previous systems?
MARC STAAL: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t anything adjustment-wise they were doing. It was more just us, a lot of times during the game it’s not being on the same page and not doing the same things over and over that you’re used to doing. So we just had to get back to the way we know how to play. For a large portion of that game last night, it wasn’t the way we were playing, so we get an opportunity to change that.
Q. Obviously, you’re focused on tomorrow night. But the fact that Game 7 will be back here in this environment, does it feel like it’s a really important game tomorrow?
MARC STAAL: We want to finish at home, obviously. We’ve had the opportunity to do it last night, and we weren’t able to. Playing in our building, obviously, we don’t want to come back here for a Game 7. We want to have that desperation of a must-win game and bring it into our building and get a win.
Q. You’ve been around Henrik for a number of years now. Obviously, being pulled last night, how do you feel he’ll bounce back?
MARC STAAL: Yeah, he’ll be fine. It’s the last concern of anyone on our team.
Q. Coach, Hank is such a veteran, have you said anything to him last night or today?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I just gave him a quick pat after the game, but Henrik doesn’t need to hear anything from me. He’s a veteran player. One of the best in his area, and I’m sure he’s going to be focused and ready for the next game.
Q. Did you talk to Henrik after the second period and ask if he wanted to go back in?
COACH VIGNEAULT: No.
Q. After giving them 8 power plays in Game 4, then committing a penalty early in Game 5, what was going through your mind then?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Yeah, I mean, our guys didn’t really need to get a huge reminder that eight penalties, and most of them in the offensive zone, is not something you want to do in the playoffs. You know? They were aware that we needed to be better in that area. Unfortunately, right off the hop we took a penalty, and it was definitely a penalty, but maybe put us on our heels there a little bit. But I thought after that it took us a couple of shifts, but we responded well. We tied the game up, and tough part was giving up that second goal right away, just like when we tied it up 4-4, giving up the next scoring chance in the back of our net makes it challenging.
Q. Some of the guys were talking about it being a crazy game and you couldn’t get it under control. Did you get a sense it was right from the start?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Yeah, it was right from the start. It was one of those games where very few times this year have we given up the amount of goals we gave up yesterday. Coming back, being down 4-1, and coming back, tying it 4-4 is obviously very positive for our group. But then the next scoring chance in the back of our net is not as positive. You know, it’s just one of those games. We’re going to turn the page and move on.
Q. Have you ever put a goalie back in after pulling him?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Don’t worry about it. It’s over with. Move on.
Q. When you play as many games as you have done already this postseason, is it inevitable that you’re going to have games like this with up-and-downs?
COACH VIGNEAULT: You know, I would say the same as in the course of a season where all of a sudden something pops up that you don’t see very often. Last night, without taking anything away from Montreal because obviously they played a good game, they were ready from the start. For us, it was one of those nights where we’re behind. We’re trying to fight back. We are fighting back. They always seem to be able to get the next goal. It was one of those nights.
Q. We talked about creating desperation, and immediately the veterans winning close to Game 7. Is the coaching or coaching staff, can they create desperation to get them?
COACH VIGNEAULT: You know, I don’t think our guys need to hear desperation from us or extra motivation. We’re one win away from moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals. We weren’t as good as we could be last night. We know that, in a couple of areas. We’re going to address that once we land in New York today, and then we’re going to get ready for tomorrow.
Q. Did you get a chance to review John Moore’s hit?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Yes, by league standards, and I know the league standard very well because of the Rome hit a couple years ago in the Boston series against my former team in Vancouver, and it doesn’t meet the league standard as far as a late hit. It was a hit that Johnny caught him a little high in the chest, player didn’t see it coming. It probably warrants the penalty that was given on the ice. Other than that, I don’t see what else it could warrant, but I’ve been surprised before. We’ll see what happens.
(This is the hit Vigneault referenced. Former Canuck and Ranger, Taylor Pyatt, lays a hard shoulder to shoulder hit on Aaron Rome which is absolutely destructive. Rome is still in the league playing.)
Q. Besides the lateness of the hit, was it a blind side angle?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, the player didn’t see him coming, obviously, but the guy was admiring his pass a little bit at the same time. Unfortunately, it was a hit and because of the force of the hit, the head seemed to snap back a little bit. But as far as what I know about league standards and from what I heard from the Prust hit where the dynamics of the hit changed because Stepan was hurt, I don’t see that at this time right now.
Q. Coach, if he is suspended, is Diaz the next man up?
COACH VIGNEAULT: We’re not there yet. I don’t expect anything.