Rangers players share off-day thoughts on trailing 0-1 in SCF

Rangers Stanley Cup Final StepanComments from several New York Rangers players during media availability on Thursday afternoon…

Q. Carl, can you give us the quick 25 cent analysis of how you played, what went right in the first period, what happened in the third period and what did you learn from playing the Kings?

CARL HAGELIN: I think in the first period we did a great job of using our speed, getting pucks deep, also getting pucks at the net, which gave us some offensive time, a couple faceoffs in the offensive zone. In the third we had way too many turnovers, didn’t get deep enough in their zone. They’re a good team. If you give them time to skate with the puck, time to spend a lot of time in our end, they’re going to do a good job. They have big bodies. They’re never going to give up.

Q. Now that you’ve seen the Kings, do you feel like your speed is the biggest advantage that you have over them?

DEREK STEPAN: I think as a team, our speed is one of our strengths. In order to have success, you have to play to your strengths and play your game. We just want to focus on making sure that we get ourselves ready to play Game 2.

Q. Obviously Dan’s pass last night did not lose the game. All you guys have made a play that decided a game late that weighed on you for a day or two. Talk about the dynamic of trying to put that aside, how difficult it is.

RYAN McDONAGH: I can think of one play myself, playoff runs. Play over the glass against Washington. They scored. Our group believes so strongly in each other. We understand that wasn’t the deciding factor in the game ultimately. We could have done a lot more to help our chances. It’s unfortunate that it happens to us at that point in the game. But he’s a guy that has been through so many ups and downs in his career, we know he’s going to bounce back and be a huge part of our Game 2 here.

HAGELIN: Stuff like that is going to happen in a hockey game. I think what we’ve been doing is coming back stronger in the game after when we lose. G is a big part of this team, a great leader. He plays a lot of heavy minutes for us. It’s unfortunate that happened. He’s going to bounce back next game. Our focus now is not what happened last game, it’s what’s going to happen next game.

STEPAN: I think going into any game, you try to make sure you don’t want to make any mistakes. You never want to make a mistake. That’s for every single guy in our team. Dan is a huge part of our hockey club. I know that he’s probably moved way past it and he’s getting himself ready to play the next game. We’ve all been there, like Mac said. If there’s a professional that can move away from it, it is Dan.

Q. Given your third period last night, what do you take from that and what sort of major adjustments do you do to move forward in Game 2?

McDONAGH: For us, the blueprint, our plan, is put forth before the game. We know it’s about getting to the neutral zone, not trying to be pretty when there’s nothing there. I think maybe we’re pressing, holding our sticks a little too much, too tightly I say, looking for stuff that wasn’t there. We know if we get pucks in deep and get our forecheck going, that’s where we can generate offense. We were looking for a little bit too much on the rush, looking to carry it across and gain the zone a little bit too much. They had great gap in the third, really took away a lot of our options, forced us to spend time in our zone, forced us to change when we actually got the puck out as opposed to being able to go on the forecheck and make them change. Got a give them credit. They played a strong period. For us, we want to control a little bit of our decision making a little bit better and try and get to our strengths a little bit more.

Q. Carl, Justin Williams said after the game that they really weren’t ready for the speed of your wingers. Did you feel like you were able to surprise them a little bit? How essential is that for you personally?

HAGELIN: Yeah, I think we obviously got a lot of chances, like Pouliot’s breakaway. I had a breakaway. I had a two-on-one. Marty, too. Our speed definitely helped us in terms of creating good chances. We just need to continue doing that throughout the series. Like Mac was saying, it’s hard to beat them. All their D are pretty steady defensively. You have to make sure you get behind them and hopefully win races.

Q. What were your first impressions of Derick Brassard when he first came to the team and what have you learned about him?

STEPAN: When Brass first came to New York, I think he had four or five points that first night. He had just gotten into New York about an hour earlier. You can see the player that he is, the skill he brings. He competes, too, which is something that has really impressed me the most, is his compete level. In the playoffs, since he’s been here, he’s been a very good playoff performer. He’s going to need to continue to do that for us.

Q. Ryan, you would have watched it on film, the coaching staff would have drilled it into you, but having finally facing the Kings, what was it like last night?

McDONAGH: Yeah, we knew they were going to push, test us physically. I thought we matched it pretty well.
I thought especially the early part of the game there, we were able to break their forecheck, get out of our zone. They got a few more opportunities in the third because of their forecheck.For the majority of the game, I felt we were matching them, too, physically. We had some big hits ourselves. We understand they’re going to be physical on us, and we’re not going to shy away from it for sure. We’ve got to look for opportunities to be physical on them for our forecheck, our speed. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a big hit, but utilizing our legs, getting on the right side of guys, creating turnovers that way is part of being physical, too. We feel we can play that game, as well.

Q. Did you feel that you guys can solve Jonathan Quick after last night, like how he plays, his weaknesses, that stuff?

STEPAN: He certainly is an elite goaltender. He made some big saves last night. Our goaltender made some big saves, too. Every series you make adjustments and you try to find ways to get pucks by goaltenders. It’s a pretty simple recipe. You just got to continue to find ways to get pucks in the net, get bodies to the net. That’s the way the playoffs are. That’s the way the Finals are going to be for us.

Q. Ryan, can you as a defenseman describe how frustrating it is when a puck flops around or bounces the way it did near Dan?

McDONAGH: Yeah, bouncing pucks, it happens to everybody, forwards and defensemen, at different points. Obviously as a defenseman, you’re probably one of the last two guys back. So there it gets exposed heavily. It looks like a terrible mistake. But bouncing pucks happen all over the ice. When you’re back there, you just try and do your best to get ahold of the thing before it gets out of control. It’s an unfortunate play. In those situations, especially at that point of the game, we’ve got to understand that when a guy is in trouble, maybe it’s not the right time to leave the zone. That was one of those guys that left the zone, anticipating a play that we were going to get it out. But at that point in the game, we just need to help him and be supportive and be close there in case it happens, be 100% on our plays before we know what happens.

Q. You were out shot by a good margin by the Kings. You alluded to not taking shots or shooting wide. Talk more about that, about all the shots that didn’t find the target.

HAGELIN: They did a good job of blocking shots, being in the lane. In the third period, they got a lot of shots. To be honest, I don’t think they had that many grade A scoring chances in the third. They had a lot of puck possession time. They had some shots. It wasn’t really a lot of good chances. I mean, we can’t look too much into shots.

Q. (No microphone.)

HAGELIN: Probably. We come in and try to score. But I think Quick left some rebounds that would have been better if we hit his pad rather than shooting high.

Q. Ryan, you mentioned that when Dan is in that vulnerable position, you have to help him out. What about after the game? You’re his defense partner. You’ve been there. Did you go to him and talk to him? Do you have to say anything to him?

McDONAGH: Yeah. I talked about the play right away. Sitting right next to him in the locker room. That’s how we work through things as a group. Me and him are a pretty talkative pairing. No matter what happens, bad play, good play, we’re talking about it, trying to improve, trying to make sure we’re on the same page as much as possible. If it was flip flopped and it was me, he would have came to me and asked me, What could we have done differently, what could we have done better? That’s the beauty of our pairing and the beauty of him, too. He doesn’t soak in the wounds, so to speak, think about the what-ifs. He just tries to correct it, see what he can do better, and we’re there supporting him.

Q. You have two days between games, at the beach. Any psychological benefit to being in this environment? Any drawback?

STEPAN: I think to be able to be away from the game is a good thing, but at the same time I think if you ask every guy on our team, where we’re at mentally right now is we’re at the rink still. Guys are evaluating their own games, getting ready to make adjustments and get ourselves ready for Game 2.

HAGELIN: I think it’s a great opportunity for us to regroup, get some more energy here. Like Step said, it’s a chance for us to reevaluate what we did last night, and tomorrow we start focusing on the next game.

McDONAGH: We find ourselves on the wrong end of Game 1. It’s unfortunate. You don’t want to start a series down one. But we think our group has a lot more to give. That’s what today will be about. A little bit more rest obviously, but mentally thinking about what you can do better. Tomorrow we’ll get on the ice, work on some things. Ultimately I feel this group has a lot more to give. We’re going to need that in Game 2. They have confidence winning in overtime. We’re going to play another good road game, have a good start, make sure we continue it all the way through the game.

MORE: Comments from Kings players here.

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