Rangers Seek "Faster Pace" and More Discipline in Game Four
While the Rangers certainly were thrilled to skate out of Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night with a 4-1 road victory and a 2-1 series lead over the Flyers, that doesn't mean the coaching staff and players are going to rest on their laurels when Game Four rolls around Friday night down in Philadelphia.
Following a full-team morning practice on Thursday at Madison Square Garden before heading back down to Philly, head coach Alain Vigneault stated he wanted his team play at a "faster pace" Friday night, and he and his players both preached that the team needs to be more disciplined than they were in Game Three when they were forced to kill off five Flyer power plays.
"I do think that in certain areas we've found ways during games to get better," Vigneault answered when asked if his team has improved throughout the series so far. "I'm hoping that tomorrow we can maybe set a faster pace to the game, and go north-south a little bit quicker. If we can do that I think we will be better."
Vigneault credited the Flyers with having the puck a lot more in Game Three on Tuesday, and forcing the Rangers to defend more. As such, the head coach praised his own team for adapting and finding a way to block 28 shots Tuesday night.
However when it comes to the next game it's clear that Vigneault wants the Rangers to have the puck much more often then they did in the previous contest. He also continues to preach the importance of "playing between the whistles" and avoiding penalties and post-whistle skirmishes as much as possible.
"Playoff hockey is a very emotional time, and discipline is a very big part of any team's plan, especially in this series for us," explained Vigneault. "We have to play whistle to whistle. We can't get into those scrums after the whistles. We know how they play. We have to play through it. We've done a real good job of that, so far."
Emotional penalties taken by Benoit Pouliot and Daniel Carcillo during Game Three were surely used as examples of how the team does not want to play by the coaching staff when the Rangers held their meetings and video sessions on Thursday. The message certainly has been driven home to the players.
"That after the whistle stuff, we've got to guard against," shared alternate captain Marc Staal, who had a pair of stare-down moments with Philly's Sean Couturier in Game Three. "They play physical, in your face, and you have to keep your emotions in check."
Added Derick Brassard, "We try and tell each other before the games and in-between periods we want to play with emotion, we want to play hard and battle, but we need to keep it whistle to whistle. I think we got away from it in Game Three, and it's something that will be part of our plan for tomorrow."
The Flyers have had nine power plays in the series and have converted twice, including once by Wayne Simmonds into an empty net in Game Two. The Rangers have had 16 power plays by comparison and have scored three goals.
As for what to expect from the Flyers on Friday, Carcillo said simply, "It's a must win for them pretty much, so we have to treat it the same way."