Here’s my story from practice today, for The Journal News and LoHud.com (it’s the unedited version, so please excuse any typos).
By Rick Carpiniello
GREENBURGH – The last time the Rangers needed to win two in a row at home, Henrik Lundqvist allowed six goals in two victories. The last time they needed to win two in a row anywhere, he pitched two shutouts.
Either way, Lundqvist has to be better in Tuesday’s Game 3 of the Rangers’ second-round series with Boston, which they trail 0-2. He allowed eight goals in two games in Boston, including five in Game 2.
“You’re never happy or satisfied obviously giving up five goals,” Lundqvist said. “But you have to move on. Take the good parts, bring them with you, and try to learn as much as possible. There’s a few things I have to remember … but also you need to get some good bounces too. Boston earned it by working hard and making really good decisions out there.”
Lundqvist surely gave his teammates a scare when he landed on his left shoulder awkwardly late in Game 2.
“It’s under control,” he said following a full practice Monday. “Everybody’s sore. It’s the playoffs.”
But what isn’t under control unless the Rangers win Game 3 is this series, which heads to the Garden, where the home team was 3-0 in the first round.
The comeback from 0-2 against Washington last week was only the second such series win in Rangers history – the other in ’96 against Montreal. But as Rangers coach John Tortorella said, most of this team has now been through a lot of situations where it has had to win playoff games, including the need to win two in a row (Games 6 and 7) against Ottawa last spring, and twice against the Caps (Games 3 and 4, then 6 and 7).
“You have to believe in yourself and your teammates that you can do it,” Lundqvist said. “We’ve been here before. But we’re not looking too far ahead. We’re looking at the first period (Tuesday), get a good start at home, build some confidence there and we’ll see where it takes us.
“Every series is different, but your approach doesn’t change. Like I said, you focus on your first period and you move on. Hopefully it can build something – a strong first. If you start looking too far ahead – we need to turn this around … start very small right now.”
As Tortorella said, it starts with correcting very correctable, and highly uncharacteristic, defensive breakdowns and blown coverages.
“The way they scored their goals – the first one was a trailer and we’ve been pretty good at finding guys late,” said Ryan McDonagh, who was paired with Dan Girardi at practice. “Washington did that a lot and Boston does it a lot. We got hurt by it one time. We know how to defend those kind of plays. For us it’s battles and whatnot, defensive coverage, and things we’ve been doing well.
“You can’t think about it too much after it’s all said and done. We’re still going to look at some tape and try and correct some things and make some adjustments here and there maybe. But our gameplan never really changed through the whole season and playoffs. It’s a matter of our compete level and effort level. That’s been there, so it’s a matter of execution, bearing down and defending and scoring goals.”