NEW YORK – New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault described his team’s 3-1 loss in Game 3 “ordinary.” A few tweaks for Game 4 at Madison Square Garden are in store for what could be the turning point night in the series.
“Tonight our guys know you gotta breathe, you gotta go out and you gotta play, and that’s what we’re gonna do,” Vigneault said Tuesday morning.
While the Montreal Canadiens have a chance to put New York on the brink of elimination, the Rangers are keeping a positive focus knowing that a win could alter the series.
“Playoff hockey is all about how you respond. You can have a tough outing and come back and play great,” said Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. “That’s the beautiful thing about playoff hockey; a series can change on a dime and that’s what we have to do tonight.”
The Rangers aren’t facing a monumental task of a 3-0 or 3-1 series deficit. Despite being unhappy with their play through three games, there’s no doom or gloom emanating from their dressing room.
“We’re down one game. We’re at home. The feeling is ‘win a game, tie series,’” Staal said. “I think we’re excited, kind of champing at the bit here to get after it tonight.”
One area of improvement needs to be the power play, which is 0-for-10 in the series. But despite the lack of production, the Rangers are hoping that they can at least gain momentum from their two minutes with the extra man. That hasn’t happened yet, while the Canadiens special teams came up huge in Game 3 scoring on two of their three power play chances and killing off all three of New York’s.
In a playoff series, the focus is on one team, one set of players, and one goaltender for the span of at-most seven games. The video preparation allows for each coach to pick up on tendencies in various aspects of their opponent’s games, especially on special teams. Both the Canadiens and Rangers were 0-for-7 with the extra man entering Game 3, but Montreal found enough holes and exploited enough looks to score their first two goals on the power play Sunday night.
Vigneault said Tuesday morning that he will do anything to help his team win Game 4, which could likely mean inserting Pavel Buchnevich. In 41 games during the regular season, the Russian forward averaged 1:52 of power play time, getting off 15 shots and recording three points.
Regardless of the changes that the Rangers’ lineup undergoes for Game 4, Vigneault is feeling good that we’ll see a better performance from his team.
“Our power play has had quite a few areas where it hasn’t executed so far,” Vigneault said, “where we finished off the season and the power play was giving us momentum and giving us timely goals. I’m very confident that tonight we’re going to turn it around. With Pavel there or Pavel not there, we’ve looked at a couple of areas and we’ve got to execute and that’s what we’re going to do.”
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