Post-game notes courtesy of the NYR; interview transcripts from the NHL/ASAP Sports:
Game 6: Rangers 1, Canadiens 0.
– The Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 1-0, in tonight in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won the best-of-seven series, four games to two, and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993-94.
– The Blueshirts have posted a 12-8 record in the playoffs this year, including a 6-4 record at home.
– New York has advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 11th time in franchise history. The Rangers have won a home game to clinch a berth in the Finals for each of their last four Stanley Cup Finals appearances (won Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2014; won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. New Jersey in 1994; won Game 6 of the Semifinals in 1979 vs. NY Islanders; won Game 4 of the Semifinals in 1972 vs. Chicago).
– Four of the last six Rangers teams that have reached the Stanley Cup Finals, including each of the last three Blueshirts squads, have had a head coach in his first year with the team (2013-14 – Alain Vigneault; 1993-94 – Mike Keenan; 1978-79 – Fred Shero; 1939-40 – Frank Boucher). Lynn Patrick also guided the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first full season as the team’s head coach in 1949-50, after beginning his tenure as the head coach of the Blueshirts midway through the 1948-49 season.
– The Blueshirts won a playoff game by a 1-0 score for the 13th time in franchise history, and the seventh time at home. It is the third time the Rangers have posted a shutout to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals (1937 at Montreal Maroons, 1950 at Montreal Canadiens), and the first time they have done so at home.
– The Rangers have posted a 10-0 record when leading after two periods in the playoffs this year. Including the regular season, the Blueshirts have won 38 out of 41 games this year when holding a lead after 40 minutes.
– New York has allowed two goals or fewer in 14 out of 20 contests in the playoffs this year, and one goal or fewer in eight playoff games. The Rangers rank second in the NHL in goals against per game in the playoffs (2.25).
– The Rangers held the Canadiens to 18 shots on goal in the game. New York has allowed less than 30 shots on goal in nine of 10 playoff home games this year, and they have limited their opponents to 20 shots on goal or less in three home playoff games this year.
– The Blueshirts were 2-for-2 (4:00) on the penalty kill in the contest. New York is 42-for-45 (93.3%) on the penalty kill in its last 14 games, 34-for-36 (94.4%) in its last 11 games, and finished the series 21-for-23 (91.3%)
– Henrik Lundqvist made 18 saves to record his 42nd career playoff victory and ninth career playoff shutout. The Rangers goaltender has posted a 12-7 record in the playoffs this year, including a 6-4 mark at home. Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for first on the Rangers’ all-time playoff wins list, and tied Richter for first on the team’s all-time playoff shutout list. Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in 15 of 20 playoff games this year. The Rangers’ all-time wins leader in both regular season and playoff action leads the NHL in wins (12), is tied for first in SV% (.928), and ranks second in GAA (2.03) in the playoffs.
– Dominic Moore tallied the lone goal of the contest, posted a plus-one rating, and won seven of 10 faceoffs (70%) in 13:53 of ice time. Moore’s tally was his third career game-winning goal in the playoffs, and his second this season (he also registered the game-winning goal in Game 5 of the Metropolitan Division Semifinals vs. Philadelphia on Apr. 27) The Rangers forward has won 42 of 58 faceoffs he has taken over the last four games (72.4%), and leads the team in faceoff win percentage in the playoffs this year (57.0%; 134-for-235). Moore is tied for the team lead, and is tied for fourth in the NHL, in game-winning goals (two) in the playoffs.
– Ryan McDonagh registered an assist, posted a plus-one rating, and recorded two shots on goal in a team-high, 25:27 of ice time. The Rangers defenseman has posted a three-game assist/point streak (four assists over the span), and tallied a point in five of six contests in the series (two goals, eight assists). McDonagh led all skaters in assists and points (10) in the Eastern Conference Finals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McDonagh is the first Rangers defenseman to record eight assists in a playoff series in franchise history, and is only the second defenseman to tally at least 10 points in a playoff series in franchise history (Brian Leetch – 11 points in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver). McDonagh leads the team in assists (10) and average ice time (25:11), and is tied for the team lead in points (13) in the playoffs. He is the first Blueshirts defenseman to record at least 10 assists and 13 points in one playoff year since Leetch in the 1994 playoffs.
– Brian Boyle tallied an assist, posted a plus-one rating, recorded two shots on goal, and was credited with two hits in 13:25 of ice time. The Rangers forward has tallied two assists in his last three contests. Boyle ranks second on the team – and is tied for eighth in the NHL – in hits (53) in the playoffs.
– Dan Girardi posted a plus-one rating, was credited with two hits, and blocked one shot in 23:07 of ice time. The Rangers defenseman led all skaters with a plus-four rating in the Eastern Conference Finals. Girardi leads the team in hits (63) and blocked shots (50) in the playoffs. The Rangers defenseman is tied for first in the NHL in blocked shots and ranks fourth in the league in hits in the playoffs. Girardi skated in his 84th career playoff contest, tying Ron Greschner for third on the team’s all-time playoff games played list.
– Mats Zuccarello tied for the game-high with five shots on goal, was credited with two hits, and blocked two shots in 18:09 of ice time. The Rangers forward ranks fifth on the team in hits (39) and is tied for fifth on the team – and ranks second among Rangers forwards – in blocked shots (25) in the playoffs.
Dominic Moore on his goal… “We got the puck in. We protected it well for a while there and used each other down low and cycled it well. When (Brian) Boyle got it behind the net, I tried to let him know I was there and he made a great play.”
Martin St. Louis on making it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year. . . “It means a lot. Obviously, it’s been a tough year for me. This makes it pretty cool. Being somewhere for 13, 14 years and changing teams and to get a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals with these teammates of mine, who have been nothing but great through my tough time in the past few weeks, it makes it even more special. I am proud to be a Ranger and do it alongside these great teammates.”
Ryan McDonagh on the defense… “We didn’t put forth a great defensive effort the game before. It’s tough to win when you give them a lot of looks like that. We wanted to just focus on being strong in our own end, keeping them to the outside, we knew we would get our chances and get some looks. But we focused more on defending here tonight. Everybody did a great job coming back, blocking some shots, and doing the little things to get out of our zone.”
Q. Henrik, I know you didn’t face a lot of shots tonight, but could you just talk about the couple saves you did make, especially that one where you were just kind of flailing around on the second period on a deflected puck?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Yeah, well, we played so well the entire game, so for me it was more about just being focused on the few shots they had and in the second period. Yeah, Danny made a great play. We just had a tough bounce. Tried to just react and have a little luck there.
But it was such a great feeling to see how we responded from the last game. The third period, I think we played our best period of the playoffs. When it mattered the most, guys really stepped up. It was awesome to be back there and see the way we took charge and earned this victory.
Q. If you could both answer this. I wonder if you consider how the year started, if someone told you at some point in October or November that you’d be standing here going to the Cup Final, what would have been your reaction at that time?
BRAD RICHARDS: I think, yeah, you never know what can happen in a year. I think on paper, and the way we felt going into the season we felt confident. We all know now if you just get in and get hot, but then we had the start that we did, well it got a little snakey there for a while. There were some down moments this year, to be honest. It took a while to get everybody going. It was a testament to the group. Just kind of mirrored our whole season, our playoffs, everything. It seemed like we never let it get to us too much. We lost it, we kept battling, and figured it out. We figured it out to get a chance to win the Cup.
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Yeah, it was definitely a test for us. I just felt the patience from the entire coaching staff. They understood. We talked about this earlier, but they understood the process for us to get to where we needed to be to be a successful team. But we did change a lot of things going into the season. I think it was a time where we had to find ourselves a little bit as a group.
But personally, I think it was my toughest start in my career, my 12, 13 years as a pro, if I combine the Sweden years. So it’s definitely a tough test. But it feels better when you turn it around and good things start to happen. It’s been a great ride so far, especially the second half of the season. It’s been a lot of fun to be around the guys, that’s for sure.
Q. When you’re standing in the net and the clock ticks on down and there are 3 seconds left and it goes down to 0. What goes through your head after being so close two years ago and losing to the Devils?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Yeah, when it’s only 2 or 3 seconds left and you realize you did it, it’s an unbelievable feeling. But what took us there is the entire team really stepped up in key moments throughout the year, but especially the playoffs. It makes it even more special, I feel like, when you have four lines stepping up in different times and just doing it together. That’s what it’s all about. Everybody feels like they’re playing a big part. I think that is a big thing when you’re playing in the playoffs, and you go through ups and downs to make sure everybody feels like they’re bringing something to the table here. That’s been the case, and that’s why we’re playing in the final, I think.
Q. What would you tell to the young kid across the ice that you were facing in this series and what he gave?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Yeah, he played really well. He looked very confident. It’s not easy to do when they put you in that spot. But I didn’t know much about him when he came in playing here, but you have to expect any goalie that comes in to play at this level, that they’re going to be good. They’re going to help the team, and he definitely kept them in a lot of the games. So for me, you know, I try to challenge myself and try to be better, but he was really good. But tonight, I don’t think I’ve been more determined to win a hockey game, you know? To put ourselves in a spot where we can play for the Cup is extremely special. I’ve been here for nine years and this is my first year in the Final. So I’m extremely proud of how we did it, to be in this spot.
Q. Alain mentioned your focus that you just referred to for tonight’s game. Can you describe what the last 48 hours have been like for you leading up to this?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: It’s been tough. You think a lot, and going into the playoffs you talked about it is a roller coaster mentally. You have so many highs. You have a few lows where you’re questioning a lot of things, but then you just have to make up your mind. You can’t have any excuses. You just have to go out there. I kept telling myself all day, believe in what you’re doing. I’ve been in that spot before. It gets silly, you get pulled. You have a tough game, but you just have to stay confident.
I didn’t have to do much today. The guys played so great. But you still have to be in the right place mentally to make the few saves and the shots I had to face. But it’s definitely a test mentally when you play a game like that. And in the position you’re in, you have so much to lose, but also so much to win. You just have to look at it the right way.
Q. Brad, you were brought in not just the skill level you bring, but for your leadership. Never has it been more evident than in the second half of this season. What is it that you sent to this locker room that you needed to step forward and be the voice in that room?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, I think it comes with the territory of the amount of years I’ve been in the league. The role you have on the team, you always recognize that. I think I didn’t get brought in here just to — I was brought in more than just on the outside. I had some experience. But I think when you lose our captain, and you have to recognize when the room needs things. I said, when you’re in the league, you just kind of know. You get a feel for the locker room, and I think it’s been a good challenge for me to try to help out that way.
Q. How much of a feeling of accomplishment is there versus there is still more to accomplish?
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, I think it’s a great night, but we’ve already talked about as a group that we’ll feel good for a couple days because we know we’re not playing until Wednesday. It’s something you feel good, but you have to keep in the back of your mind that this isn’t the ultimate goal. It’s an amazing achievement to be able to play for the Cup, but it doesn’t come around in these two and a half weeks. They go by real quick, and you don’t want to get caught behind to start the series. That is the mental focus we’ve got to keep, and we’ve got to stay sharp.
I know it sounds crazy next Wednesday, but you can’t let it slip. We have to be ready and better than we were tonight in Game 1 to try to get into the series quickly.
Q. Brad, some of the guys said that you instructed them not to touch the trophy. What was the superstition and thought process there?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, I just — Marty and I have been there, Carcillo, unfortunately, just wasn’t dressed, so we didn’t put his opinion in, but no one else was dressed that’s been there. We won it without touching it, and it was instructed that way when we won. If half the team was there maybe we would have had more debate on the ice, but it wasn’t much debate. We’re not doing it, and that’s where we went with it.
Q. Can you talk about the emotion that you guys have played with, especially Marty and Dom, and for him to be the one to get that goal, what was the feeling?
BRAD RICHARDS: I mean, there’s been quite a few story lines this year, and those two are obviously big ones. I think as you go through runs, that’s just the way things go with teams that go through runs. There always seem to be little things that you can grab and build on, and that is what makes it so special to win a Stanley Cup, so many things you go through. The stars have to align, and it’s great that those guys have the feeling that someone’s watching over them and helping them out.
Q. Brad, can you talk about walking in that Stanley Cup Final with a guy like Martin St. Louis that you did win a Stanley Cup with ten years ago, and now you’re back together here in New York?
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, I’ll be honest, it’s hard to believe. Ten years goes by so quick. We were just talking about we definitely thought we’d be back after winning in Tampa and the lockout and all that stuff happened, and the salary cap and the team just didn’t stay together too long. Never would have thought we’d be here today in New York doing it. Even to start the season, I never imagined Marty being here.
So the fact that all of that has come back, it’s great. We’ve created so many friendships this year. Our group has come together so much, but obviously Marty and I go back a long way. And we don’t want it to be about us. But it’s still a pretty cool feeling.
Q. You have a number of days off between now and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Are you worried about the six days rest in between?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: No, it’s going to be good for us to get a couple of days to recharge. I think, mentally, too, to let it sink in a little bit and enjoy it for a day or two. Then you start preparing for the next challenge. You know, it’s going to be a great challenge. We’re going to play against a really good team. It’s about, for us, in the room to remind each other that this is such a special moment that you have to grab it. You have to make sure you’re ready and play your absolute best. You’re not going to get that many opportunities. I’ve been here for nine years. This is my first final, and now it’s all about preparing the right way and try to leave it all out there.
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, same thing.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Q. Coach, when you came here June 21st and I asked you if you had
visions of being here in New York, and you said you saw the parade posters
of that day. When that buzzer went off, what was that feeling for you
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, we’re not there yet. I mean, we’ve given
ourselves the opportunity to compete for the Cup. It was a great feeling
tonight. We played, in my book, probably our best game of the playoffs.
You know, we’ve got to give Montreal a lot of credit. I mean, they’re a
good organization, and they played really hard. It was a tough series.
Q. Coach, you always talk about how important it is to play four
lines deep. Your fourth line gets that goal tonight with John Moore, can
you talk about the importance of that fourth line?
COACH VIGNEAULT: All year long since we’ve been able to find four
lines and play them, we’ve been a better team. Our pace is better, and I
thought tonight it showed. We challenged our group a little bit this
morning after the performance we had in Montreal.
We knew we had to be good, and for our guys under this pressure
tonight, we definitely didn’t want to go back to Montreal under the
scrutiny and the pressure they came up with their best performance. We
gave them one chance in the first, four in the second, and nothing in the
third. Shouldn’t have been a 1-0 game, but you have to give their
goaltender a lot of credit. He played outstanding.
Q. Someone gives you a phone call in late October this year and
says, by the way you’ll be in the Cup Final this year, what would have been
your honest reaction at that moment?
COACH VIGNEAULT: In October (laughing)? Probably would have said
what are you smoking (laughing)? Oh, you know, we worked our way and
improved how we played. We came along in the second half and found a way
to get in. Ever since we’ve gotten in, I mean, all the series have been so
competitive and so hard-fought. We’ve gotten the goaltending we need and
we’ve found ways to win. That’s what we did tonight.
Q. Was Henrik as calm before this game as he is before any other?
What did you think of the block or save he made in the second?
COACH VIGNEAULT: He was totally focused. He was probably a little
upset tonight coming into the game. I don’t know if it was because of the
opportunity or if he was upset with the way it ended in Montreal in Game 5.
But he was definitely focused, and those are not easy games to play. I
mean, there is not a lot of work, but you’ve got to stay sharp. He stayed
really sharp, and the saves he had to make, I can think of the first
scoring chance tonight. He’s going one way, play is coming the other way,
and it was a tough save. He had to make some good saves, and he did.
Q. How appropriate was it that Dominic Moore, one of your fourth
line players, scored the winning goal that put you in the Stanley Cup
COACH VIGNEAULT: That whole line, I started them off tonight,
opening face-off. They’ve been a big part of our success. They get pucks
deep and they wear the other team’s defense down, and that’s what we did.
We caught Montreal on a long shift there and were able to wear them down
and finally scored the goal that enabled us to move on.
Q. You were still scoreless — I just wanted to follow up on that
question. The block or save in particular that Henrik made. What you
thought of it?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Same thing you did. It was a spectacular save.
You’ve talked about being able to attract the puck or find the puck.
That’s what Hank did there. We were playing really well, and needed a save
and we got it.
Q. What were you able to do defensively that allowed you to keep
them away from your net almost the whole game?
COACH VIGNEAULT: We managed the puck a little bit better. When we
lost the puck, we knew when they caught us in Montreal that they like to
play a fast game, and they like to stretch things out. We didn’t let that
happen tonight. We were able to have five-men units all over the ice.
Five guys in the picture most times, and that really helped us defensively.
Q. You rallied around Marty’s personal loss, but how significant a
moment was this for Dominic Moore, considering what he went through in
January of last year?
COACH VIGNEAULT: That question probably goes to him, but I know both
him and Marty have gone through some challenging times. I think they’ve
found refuge — is that an English word? My French brain. They’ve found a
way to find a place where they can be happy, and that is at the rink with
their teammates and on the ice. They’ve both been very inspirational
leaders throughout the whole thing. Very happy to have them both.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Photo by Getty Images.