I asked if there’s reason to believe this team is better:
“Yeah. I mean, you can only go on the feeling you have. It’s still so early. But it feels like we have a better team than last year. We have more guys who can do the job, I think; more skill guys. I really like what we brought in over the summer, and also the guys who stayed, we hopefully learned something from last year. But it’s up to us to prove it. Asking me now, yeah, it feels like we have a better team than last year.
“Yeah, but we had stretches last year where we played really well, where you thought, ‘Wow, this could be a really good year,’ especially at the beginning. But I say this all the time. It’s not so much about being better, it’s about being more consistent and that’s how you get into the playoffs … and that’s how you miss the playoffs, if you’re not consistent enough. So that’s going to be our biggest challenge. I think it is for every team.”
I said to him that the Rangers didn’t go into the off-season fooling themselves into believing they were one goal short, but rather that they missed the playoffs because of what happened between the fast start and strong finish.
“Yeah, it was too many games we left slip away. Of course we should be disappointed missing that close, but at the same time you can’t be upset about that game because we were 10-2-1 or whatever the last 13 or 14 games. So it’s hard to be upset about our finish. It’s more in the middle. There were games here and there where you remember how you lost in overtime, or late in the game. It’s going to cost you in the long run. So we have to make sure we’re focused for every game here, and pay attention to it.”
On learning from last season, and how that gets turned around.
“I think it’s important that everybody’s pushing each other, every practice and in games, and really reminding everybody how important every game is, and you can’t let one point slip away. Of course you’re not going to win every game; there’s no way. But if there’s a point you can get, you have to go after it. Some games it’s going to be tough to get points. You might play a really good team, you might have a tough night. But there’s nights where you definitely have a chance to get away with one or two points and you can’t let those slip away.
“So you just talk to each other and be aware of it.”