First the news.
Nothing new on Staal, except that Tortorella did allow that “he’s day to day.” No further explanation of what the injury is or how long he’s expected to be out, or even—as he was asked—if Staal could play today if this was Game 82 and the Rangers needed it.
But “day to day” sounds a lot better than “no comment.” So I’m guessing it’s not a concussion deal or anything too serious.
Lundqvist, he said, is “fine” and he will make his 18th consecutive start. Same lineup tonight.
No comment on that piece of cooke Matt Cooke’s vacation. He said enough people have “chimed in” on that already.
Anything new on Staal:
Is it a situation where can’t play, or is it a choice?
“Can’t play. … he’s day to day. I’ll give you that. I’m not trying to be coy.”
If this were the last game of the season and they needed to win?
“He’s day to day. … you’re trying to work me.”
On not being able to exhale during this stretch drive and winning streak, even against a non-playoff team like Florida:
“It’s staring right at us, an emotional game, you win a game (in Pitt, and then get) a mid-week game, against a non-playoff team … it’s staring right at us. It’s been addressed. We should be able to, we need to be ready to play. That’s the way this league is. Right when you think you’ve found a way, you get some important points on the road, the league comes back and bites you in the ass. So we can’t allow that to happen. So we need to be ready, as we’ve been the last couple. We need a good start here against a team that’s playing loose and will be a dangerous hockey club.”
I asked him about the swings, where the team goes weeks where it can’t score more than one or two goals, then the gates open and they score the way they’ve scored lately (17 in the last three games, and a 7-0 game a couple of weeks back).
“Who’s to figure? Even when we were losing in February, we were generating a lot of offense and couldn’t score. But it’s happening at a good time for us right now. Hopefully we can continue. But again, we have to play defense first and hopefully we can keep on banging in some pucks here at key times. But who’s to figure?”
Does he have a response to Cooke’s suspension:
“No. Enough people have chimed in on that. You don’t need mine.”
On what McCabe has meant on the power play, especially in terms of opening up space for the players down low.
“Well, I think everybody knows why he’s on the power play, so we’re hoping he’ll open up some ice there. He’s not only—as we’ve had him more and more, he makes good plays, too. He’s very good laterally, trying to get to the middle of the ice, which is important for the power play. He’s done some good things there. Obviously it opens up some of the middle of the ice there, it’ll open up pressure off of us from down low because teams will try to sneak out and try to block his shot.”
On if it’s important to clinch a playoff spot before the last game of the season to rest Lundqvist:
“I am not even thinking about that. I’m thinking about Florida, trying to win another hockey game. That’s way too … that doesn’t even enter my mind. Just the next game.”
Nut to give Lundqvist a day off? …
“I don’t even think that way. I’m thinking about tonight’s game only and making sure we’re ready to play and find a way to win a hockey game.”
On if Lundqvist is feeling better.
“Hank? Oh, he’s fine. He’s fine.”
On how he’s changed as a coach since last season.
“I don’t think it’s changing as a coach. I think it’s, when you’re with a team, I think it’s an understanding. I think I understand the players a little bit better. I think the players understand the coaching staff a little bit better. I shouldn’t say you don’t change. I think you need to, as a coach, when you’re pushing athletes and you’re trying to get across how you think the game should be played, when they start getting it you need to respect them, too. And allow them, and not always be hounding them. I think that’s happened with our team. I think our team understands, has been a consistent team in understanding how we have to play, so I think you have to back off as a coach and show them that respect. And I think that always evolves when you’re with a team; if you’re fortunate enough to be with a team for a few years.”
On the short-handed success, particularly Prust:
“He just has a knack. He’s around the puck. It doesn’t even look like he can get up the ice sometimes, and he ends up beating a guy. The puck tends to follow him. Our penalty killing has been pretty consistent throughout the year, but with Pruster, I don’t have an answer. And it’s at big times in games, also.
“We’ve stressed, especially the second half of the year, that we want more pressure up front. We felt at a certain time, not sure when it was exactly, but we were spending too much time in our end zone and we concentrated on getting better dumps to go pursue pucks. Whether that has something to do with it, I don’t know. But Pruster just ended up around there and scoring goals short-handed.
“We’ve been trying to be more aggressive up ice. I know, it was some time in December, we felt we were spending too much time in our end zone and we didn’t dump a puck—we had chances to dump pucks, maybe chase it down and really disrupt them. I know Schoeny had a concentration on that, as far as trying to put more pressure up ice.”