Rangers Move On and Refocus
The Rangers held a full-squad practice Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden in preparation for Sunday afternoon's Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins. Trailing the best-of-seven series 1-0 following Thursday's 3-2 overtime defeat, many Rangers emphasized that the team has moved on from its Game One loss and had already zeroed in its focus on the very important second game scheduled for Sunday.
"We've been in this situation before and we've got that to look back on," Ryan Callahan said after practice, referring to dropping Game One of the first round series with Washington. "But it's a new series, and we knew there'd be times where we could be down. It's just a matter of coming out and not looking behind you. We are just looking now at Game Two."
Defenseman Anton Stralman pointed out that the sting of how the Rangers lost the first game on Thursday night stayed with him a bit---he was on the ice when Brad Marchand scored the game-winning goal---but that he put Game One in the rearview mirror pretty quickly.
"You can't think too much about it," explained Stralman. "I don't think we played a good game, and then we lose. It's as simple as that. Then you move on. We've got to rebound tomorrow, bounce back and play our game again, and give ourselves a better chance to win."
No lineup changes are expected for the Rangers in Game Two, though defenseman John Moore did lose six teeth on Thursday after taking a pauck to the mouth. Moore missed some action on the ice, but returned quickly and finished out the contest, and on Saturday said he is "fine" and will play on Sunday.
Almost to a man the players spoke about the need to return to the Rangers preferred style of hockey---that of puck possession and more effective play on the forecheck. At this time of the year it's not about major changes in style of play as opposed to improving on what the team does best.
"We just want to try and set the tempo of how we want to play regardless of what happened the first game," noted defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "We just want to get back to playing an aggressive style, fast-paced tempo, and really generate more scoring chances from that."
At his press conference following practice Saturday, head coach John Tortorella said his top line of Carl Hagelin-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan is "going to have to be better" moving ahead in this series, while also noting that there were not a lot of on-ice changes that needed correcting---"small things" he called them---though "there's some other adjustments we have to go through, which I'm not going to tell you."
But at the end of the day, the Rangers seemed pleased to have had an extra day off between the first two games of this series, and ready to get after it in Game Two here in Boston.
"You get the chance to mentally regroup and refocus," explained McDonagh. "Obviously we didn't get the start we wanted to in the series, losing the first game, but getting these couple days to analyze yourself on how you played against a different looking team (comapred to Washington) and system, and seeing what we can do to improve collectively, is good."