Friday, May 17, 2013
Rangers working overtime at spin control
By Katie Strang
BOSTON -- Thursday night, it was goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who tried to rationalize it.
The morning after, it was his coach and teammates that attempted to explain why, in the past few years, the Rangers have struggled in overtime during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Rangers are 0-3 in overtime during the 2013 playoffs, including a 3-2 loss in Game 1 against the Bruins in which they were dominated after regulation from puck drop to Brad Marchand’s game-winner.
Coach John Tortorella said he doesn’t believe the trend has affected the team’s psyche. At least not yet.
“I don’t think it’s playing with their head at all,” Tortorella said. “It’d be nice to win one, but no, I don’t think it’s gotten that far.”
The Rangers have dropped all three overtime games this spring -- all but two of 10 over the last three years -- and seem to struggle in extra time versus regulation.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team among the remaining eight has trailed less in regulation (8.2%; 41:58 of 513:04 total minutes played) than the Rangers.
But you wouldn’t have known it watching Thursday night’s game, when they were absolutely worked by the Bruins and surrendered chance after glorious chance.
Sometimes overtime comes down to one big play, one lucky bounce. Not in Game 1.
“I’m not so sure it was a bounce of the puck last night,” Tortorella said. “We were dominated in overtime.”
Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello seemed confident that the loss, in which he was pushed out of the way by Marchand on the rush for the deciding goal, could be easily discarded, as well as any doubts that the team is ill-equipped to deal with the overtime pressure.
“We have a good, confident group here,” he said. “All we have to do is be ready for next game, and win.”
So what, exactly, is the team’s mindset heading into overtime?
“The mindset’s to score a goal, try not to make any mistakes and have it end up in your own net,” said Rick Nash, who has yet to score his first goal of the playoffs as a Ranger. “It’s one of those things where you want to get the puck down low, battle down there and create chances.”
The Rangers were futile in establishing that in Game 1, with the Bruins the clear aggressors in setting the tone, sustaining momentum and keeping the foot on the gas.
The Bruins have won all three of their overtime contests this playoffs, their most notable being a stunning comeback in Game 7 against the Leafs on Sunday in which they erased a three-goal deficit and pulled off the upset to advance to Round 2.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he doesn’t possess any “miracle words.” Instead, he tries to preach a simple message: “play to win.”
“We go out there with no fear and we’ll live with the consequences,” Julien said.
The Rangers are living with the consequences now of Thursday’s feeble effort -- a 1-0 hole to start the series.
“I think it’s short-term memory for us. It’s over and done with,” Nash said. “We’ll do corrections today and corrections tomorrow and then come back to another game.”
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Injured Rangers defenseman Marc Staal practiced during the team’s optional skate at TD Garden on Thursday, though he is not expected to play in Game 2.
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Julien said it’s a “little early” to speculate on the status of Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (lower-body), Andrew Ference (lower-body), and Wade Redden (undisclosed), but said it remains a “possibility” that one or more of the veteran blue-liners could return for Game 2 on Sunday.