Comments from Rangers coach Alain Vigneault during Thursday morning’s media availability…
Q. Obviously Dan’s pass did not lose the game last night. When a guy makes a play like that that’s so out there at the end, what is the
dynamic of how difficult it is when you have two days till you play another game?
VIGNEAULT: I haven’t talked to him yet personally. I do know a couple of my assistants have. I do know that Dan’s got great teammates. I’m sure that they’ve all talked to him. It was a bounce. It was a bounce that unfortunately didn’t work out.
He couldn’t put the handle on it. Stuff like that happens. You got to turn the page and move on.
Q. Do you feel you let one get away as a team on this one? And what sort of adjustments do you have to make to get a win?
VIGNEAULT: Well, I’m in the process at this time of watching the game. I haven’t watched the whole game yet. I’ve watched parts of it. One thing that’s real evident to me, and it should be to our whole group, is we’re not going to beat this team if we do not all bring our A game. It is that strong of an opponent that we’re playing against. We had (Henrik Lundqvist) that brought his A game last night. We had a couple guys. I don’t want to name who I think brought their A game. But our B game won’t do it. We’re not going to win if we bring our B game to the table. They’re one of the best teams I’ve seen in a long time. Areas to exploit, they don’t jump out at you. We’re going to have to be better than we were.
Q. What changed over the course of the game, especially from the first period leading to the third period?
VIGNEAULT: Again, like I said last night after the game, I thought our first 40 was good. Both teams were battling real hard. I’m
not quite sure yet what happened in the third. I haven’t sat down with our players yet to discuss it. But obviously our game in the third wasn’t good enough. They had a real strong push. We’re going to have to be a lot better than we were.
Q. Not asking your lineup, but if John Moore does come back in, what element would he bring? Have you missed him in the lineup?
VIGNEAULT: Well, Johnny’s played some good hockey for us. He skates with the puck well. He’s left-handed D. Think it’s easier to go D to D when you have right- and left-handers (Rafael Diaz) has done a good job for us also. Johnny has been one of our consistent six defensemen that we’ve rolled all year. If we do go that way, I’m sure he’s going to be ready for it and he’s going to look forward to the opportunity.
Q. Saying they’re one of the best teams you’ve seen in a long time, did your opinion change of the Kings last night? Are they better than you had originally thought? Are they better than the versions you coached against when you were in Vancouver?
VIGNEAULT: They were a good team in the years past. They’re a real good team now. It’s obvious they’ve got more experience. They play their game plan to a T and they don’t deviate in any shape, way or form, so that makes it real challenging for the opposition.
Q. When you say something like that, that everybody has to bring their A game, is that the message to your team? Is that a challenge to them? If so, how do you think they’ll respond?
VIGNEAULT: It’s exactly what we talked about prior to going into the series. This is something we were aware of. It’s something we
discussed, how good the opponent was. That’s a challenge. You know, at this time of the year to win, you got to bring your A
game. That’s each and every player. When we played Game 6 against Montréal, each and every player brought his A game. It’s not an easy thing to do. But against this opponent, I do believe our expectations are to win, got to find a way to do it.
Q. What about this team, seeing them in person in Game 1, watching on film, jumped out at you in terms of realizing this is what these guys are?
VIGNEAULT: Nothing jumped out at me in the sense that everything that I expected, everything that we had talked to our players
about, about what to expect, they did it down to a T. They keep doing it. They stay with it. They don’t deviate. It’s tough to exploit any areas because they’re that good.
Q. What is the most challenging part?
VIGNEAULT: To tell you the truth, I can’t name one. They can play a fast game. They can be physical when the opportunity is there.
They’re a good team. But saying that, I believe in looking back at it, for 40 minutes we went head to head with them. When they had a push, we had one guy that had a big push. Our goaltender permitted us to stay in that game. We were one
shot away. So I think our group can be better.
Q. Where would you rate the physicality of the three teams that you beat to get here compared to what you saw last night?
VIGNEAULT: The three teams we met before were different. Philly was a physical team. They played on the edge. Pittsburgh played more of a skill game. But they also had quite a few players that played on the edge. Montréal was, you know, a real structured team.
So they were three different opponents. This one here is structured. They’ve got skill. They’re physical. Makes it a pretty big challenge.
Q. A lot of us probably think that last night’s game was a game you had to win because you would be catching them when fatigue might be in their legs still. How different is that from how you guys feel? Is that a message you can’t afford for your team to think?
VIGNEAULT: Well, I mean, we went into last night’s game focused on that game. Obviously our expectations were to win it. We
didn’t do it. You guys can analyze why we didn’t do it, if that was our game to win. We’re going to turn the page. Obviously we’re going to make a couple of adjustments that we need to make. We’re going to focus on the next game and give it our best shot.
Q. To your trained eye, how do you tell when somebody has their A game? Is it their effort? Their concentration?
VIGNEAULT: I would say it’s a combination of compete level, execution, and sticking to the plan. When your players are executing, and they won’t be perfect, you can’t be perfect all the time, but you can put yourselves in situations that when you’re not perfect, you can still make a play. Compete level, all the one-on-one battles, and there are tons that you can see there, when you see that your guys are there, you know they’ve got their A game. When it’s not there, B is not going to cut it against this team.
Q. With Nash, what is it going to take to get this guy going and could potentially putting him on a power play help get him ignited?
VIGNEAULT: Not sure if you followed our series very closely, but Rick has been playing some real good hockey. He’s competing. He’s
using his size. He’s done some great defensive plays for us. He’s been a big part of why we are where we are and why we have a chance to compete for the Cup. He’s getting some looks on our team. Throughout the playoffs, he is the one that is on the most positive as far as scoring chances for and against. He’s getting some looks. You got to believe that sooner or later they’re going to go in more consistently. But they did go in against Montréal.
Q. You always hear when coaches analyze a game, We don’t want to turn this into a track meet. Given the speed advantage that your team has, would this be a case where you actually would want to turn it into a track meet?
VIGNEAULT: Well, we need to play to our strengths. Let me put it another way. We need to find a way to play to our strengths. They’re probably the best opponent we’ve met. For us to win, we’re going to have to find a way to play to our strengths. Speed is definitely one of them.
Q. You played Ryan McDonagh nearly half the game last night. What is it about his game that you have that much faith in him to show him that much time in a game?
VIGNEAULT: His stamina is phenomenal. It just seems that throughout this playoffs, he’s been getting better. Anybody that followed
us knows that during the Philly and Pittsburgh series he was trying to get his legs and trying to get them going. He’s got them going now. He just seems to be able to play tons and play well defensively and offensively. He can be physical when the opportunity is there. When he sees and sniffs that there’s a possibility offensively, he goes. He’s our best player as far as our defensive group right now, and we need him to continue to play how he is.