Transcripts from the NHL/ASAP Sports.
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT
Q. You’ve said before you’ve played well in this building the first two games, but it didn’t come across, surrendered the two-goal leads. How do you prevent that kind of event while still playing well?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, you know, the three games that we’ve played in this building, we’ve played well. We’ve played well throughout the year on the road. We just had a two-goal lead and were able to hang onto it.
I’m feeling good about our chances tomorrow. We know that we can play better than we did yesterday. That’s what we’re going to try and do.
Q. I know Darryl is not a big believer in momentum from game to game. I was wondering your take on it, whether you think anything can carry over at the start of the next game.
COACH VIGNEAULT: No, I mean, for us tomorrow is basically the same scenario we had yesterday. If we intend to continue to play this year, we have to win.
So I expect, you know, a solid game from our group. We play well on the road. I expect us to play a real smart game and give ourselves a chance.
Q. What were some of the takeaways from the new line combinations you had in Game 4, some of the positives?
COACH VIGNEAULT: You know, for half of the game I was pretty pleased with how, at both ends of the rink, we were able to defend and generate some good chances.
The second half of the game I thought they had a strong push. Our goaltender permitted us to hang on and find a way to win that game. If there are enough positive signs from that game for me to not make any other changes, stay tuned tomorrow at 5:00 and find out.
Q. Just how tough of a decision was that, to drop Richards in the lineup? How did you see him respond or handle that?
COACH VIGNEAULT: First of all, Brad’s a team-first guy. I mean, as a coach, and especially at this time of the year when you don’t get a lot of these opportunities, sometimes you got to make decisions that might be a little tough to make on a personal aspect. But on a team aspect, you have to.
I just felt that certain guys were playing a little bit better than Brad. You know, that’s the way it is.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at the video of last night’s game? If so, what did the third period look like watching it a little closer?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I had five hours and a half coming down, so I’ve watched it a couple times.
They had a strong push. I mean, they’re a good team. They threw a lot of pucks at the net. There’s always bodies at the net. It makes it real challenging for your team defensively.
I thought for the most part offensively we didn’t have much of a push. But we defended I thought in the third better than we did in the second, where in the second after they scored that goal we sort of played on our heels a little bit.
We gave up a few rush chances. That didn’t happen in the third, so…
You know, we found a way to win. We had no choice. We have no choice tomorrow.
Q. This morning Justin Williams said any talk about hockey gods or puck luck is a cop-out. Those 50/50 plays do exist. How do you prepare your team for dealing with the unknown or unexpected, mentally if anything else?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Anybody that’s been in this game for any amount of time knows that there’s battles on the ice and sometimes whether you call it hockey gods or hockey plays or whatever, like when Dan was shooting the puck from the point and the knob of his stick stays in his hand, you can call that a hockey play or you can call it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to me.
Those are things that happen. Bounces happen during the game. Hopefully by being in the right position with the right frame of mind, the right understanding of the game, you can be on those bounces the right way, whether they be defensive plays or offensive plays.
Q. Nash has played well but hasn’t been able to get on the score sheet. Is there anything else you can do, that needs to happen, to get him more involved to get on the board, or does he just need one to go in?
COACH VIGNEAULT: No, I mean, he’s doing everything that I think you want from a player. He’s going to the tough areas. He’s shooting the puck. He’s going hard on the forecheck. He’s being physical. He’s creating turnovers.
You know, all I can say right now is I got to believe by playing the way he is right now, he will get rewarded. I’m hoping that’s going to be tomorrow.
Q. How difficult is the Jeff Carter line with the Kings? Seems like they’ve caused a lot of matchup problems last night.
COACH VIGNEAULT: Last night they were, without a doubt, especially on that second period there, with their outside speed, they were a real force. It happened a few times when that line was on, we didn’t manage the puck the way we were supposed to, they’re coming one way, we’re going the other. It’s tough for any forward, Ds or forwards, to be able to handle that speed.
We’re very aware of it and we’re going to try to do a better job tomorrow.
Q. When AV [Coach Vigneault] comes to you before the game yesterday and talks about the new lines, did you have an immediate reaction? He talked about how you’ll always do what’s right for the team.
BRAD RICHARDS: Go try to win a game really. If you’re down 3-0, you know, there’s something that has to change sometimes. Just talk to the new linemates, go play.
Q. We’ve talked a lot about your leadership, its importance throughout this run. Is that any more difficult to lead if your ice time is diminished?
BRAD RICHARDS: No. I actually played more five-on-five last night than I did the night before. You guys will read into it because I was on a different line.
I haven’t been where I need to be this series, so my ice time has been lower. We’re trying to win games, to get to a chance to win a Cup, so…
Q. Put me in your skates for a moment and describe, what is the emotional, physical investment you make to play this much hockey, get this close, how that plays into not wanting it to go for naught?
BRAD RICHARDS: The day after being down 3-0 is a tough day. When you think about it, collect your thoughts, go through everything we’ve gone through this year, you know, it started a long time ago. It’s nice to be given another chance. That’s all we wanted to do last night. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we’re still here today.
If you go this long, you just keep fighting somehow, some way. You figure it out as a group to just fight another day. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Q. In any self-analysis you’ve done of your play in this series, have you figured out reasons why you’re not where you want to be in this series?
BRAD RICHARDS: Game 2 was rough. I don’t know what happened. I just couldn’t get out of my own way.
Besides that, if I score a goal, you know, contribute or we win, you probably have a whole different feeling. When you get down 3-0, you fight it a bit. That’s the way it goes.
But Game 2 I had a chance to maybe bury a third that probably changes the whole mentality of the team and you, coming back 1-1. But it didn’t. If other guys are figuring out a way to get it done, right now it’s about that.
Q. Brad, when AV [Coach Vigneault] comes to you with a decision like that to switch lines, were you surprised you stayed on the power play? If one play contributes to a goal, is it possible to flip things quickly?
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, I mean, it flips very quickly, for sure. Like I said, if you can help out, score a goal, a big play…
Right now it might be some other simple play you have to get done while you’re out there. That’s it. Had some good looks last couple games, the power play. Just for some reason, not going in.
So we just keep trying to do that.
Q. Do you have any theory on why you’re so good in elimination games?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: I guess there’s a couple of things. We always talk about this. Feels like this is the 20th time weâ€™ve talked about this.
But it comes down to how much you want to battle, how much you want it. Not only for me, but for the group. You know, for a goalie, when you go into these games, when you feel the support from your teammates, they play well as a group in front of you, obviously it’s a lot easier to play your game, just focusing on what you have to do.
And then you try not to think too much. You just focus on your job and what you have to do to have success. Sometimes when everything is on the line, that’s actually easier sometimes to focus in on the important thing and not so much on consequences, I guess.
Q. When you have such a small margin of error, particularly the third period last night, how difficult is it mentally just to sustain that sort of mindset?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Well, I guess that’s the challenge for a goalie, to be in the right place mentally always. Obviously when you play an important game, third period, you know the next goal is going to be so important for the series and this game.
You just try to stay in that moment, stay in the moment and focus on the next shot. You know, it was pretty intense at times, but you try just to stay calm, I guess, and focus on your job, not overdoing anything or complicate anything.
But it’s fun. I like that challenge. You know, it’s fun to be out there in these types of games. Obviously we’d like to be in a better position right now. We’re down 3-1. But at the same time it’s a lot of fun to be out playing in these types of games.
They’re intense and you’re pretty tired afterwards, physically and mentally, but as you should be.
Q. We talk a lot about Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal. In your mind, what has Anton [Stralman] meant to this team and how have you seen him grow as a teammate?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: I think he’s been so steady ever since he came to New York. He’s such a humble and quiet guy, you don’t talk that much about him. But you always know what he’s going to bring.
He sees the game really well. He’s a really smart player with and without the puck. So he definitely deserves more credit, I think. He’s someone that you can use in a lot of different situations, I think.
He can play physical, but he can also, like I said, be extremely smart with the puck. So, you know, obviously yesterday he was in the right place a couple times. But that’s just him playing his game. I think he’s meant a lot to this team for a long time now.
Q. He might be one of the most underrated guys.
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Definitely. He has so much talent. I think his game is so steady, I really do. As a goalie, when you have a defenseman in front of you that’s so calm, you know, making good decisions with and without the puck, it definitely helps me relax and gives me confidence, too.
Q. You and AV [Coach Vigneault] both talked last night about it feeling good to get things breaking your way a little bit. This morning Justin Williams says he thinks any talk of puck luck or hockey gods is a cop-out. What do you think of that statement and how was it to get one or two to go your way last night?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: We needed it. You don’t think so much about it during the game. You just go out there and try to play as hard as you can.
But there are moments where there’s so many things you can have an impact on. Your game you can control, a couple other things. But there’s also so much out of your control.
A couple times last night, you know, we had that luck that you need in a tight game. Sometimes you say it, maybe not mean it 100%, but that factor of luck, in a series against a good team, you’re going to need it to win games.
You can’t rely on it all the time. But there are moments in games where the difference is so small, that little extra push might help you to get the win.
Q. After winning Game 4 and denying them the Cup in your building, do you feel you placed any doubt in their minds, even if it’s the smallest amount?
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: I don’t know. Hopefully. They’re a confident team. They’ve been on both sides. They’ve been up, they’ve been down. They’re pretty consistent with the way they play.
I’m not going to think too much about where they’re at mentally. It’s more about what we need to do.
I know if we win tomorrow, they’re definitely going to feel the pressure. We were in that spot playing MontrÃ©al. The closer you are to your final goal, obviously you tend to think more. That’s just the way you work. It’s hard not to.
Being one game away, when we were in the conference final, being up 3-1, then you lose one, you definitely feel the pressure for Game 6.
We’re looking at tomorrow. It’s a great opportunity for us to try to take this back to New York. It would be a lot of fun to get another game in New York and see what we can do with that. But that’s as far as we look at it right now.
Photo by Getty Images.