Tuesday, February 5, 2013
A shot at revenge for Rangers
By Katie Strang
It's a moment that has stayed with Rangers defenseman Marc Staal through the summer and the extended off-season: seeing Adam Henrique's season-ending overtime marker cross the goal line last May.
That gut-wrenching realization that the Rangers season was over, their Stanley Cup hopes extinguished, is one Staal hopes he and his teammates never have to re-live.
"You look back and still get that sinking feeling when you see that, when they score that overtime goal and you're out. I don't think that feeling ever leaves you," Staal said. "You try your hardest, obviously, not to ever have that feeling again."
The buzz isn't nearly that of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but in tonight's first meeting between the two teams since that memorable series, the Rangers are still looking forward to some retribution.
"The stakes aren't nearly as high, but New Jersey's New Jersey. They're a tough competitor against us [and] they're always intense games," Staal said. "I can't stand losing to them and I'm sure it's the same way over there."
The game may not be played as sharply as a playoff match, but the intensity won't be lacking.
"We've always had close games the past few years," Staal said. "They're always within a goal and they're always really tight, intense, physical, so I expect no different [Tuesday] night."
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said the team can't waste time dwelling on the past, though. As much as last season's playoff exit stung, the Rangers need to learn from it and move on. With only three points separating the two teams in the Atlantic Division standings, the Rangers don't want their focus muddled by any residual hostility from last May.
"It's the past now, what happened last season," Lundqvist said. "Going in there [Tuesday], it's about preparing for a good game and just trying to get two points."