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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault thinks his team's 4-1 series loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup finals will "haunt" them for "some time."
Asked to explain why during a news conference Monday at the team's training facility on breakup day, Vigneault cited his team's three overtime losses in Los Angeles.
"With some of the looks we had to score, I firmly believe that if we get that done, win Game 5, I know in L.A. they didn't believe in momentum, but I thought we would've had a little momentum there," Vigneault said. "But we didn't get it done."
The Rangers blew a 2-0 lead in Game 1 and leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 in Game 2. Vigneault felt like his team played its best game of the series in Game 3, but New York was blanked by Los Angeles despite holding a 32-15 edge in shots.
The Rangers won Game 4 despite being outshot 41-19, but were eliminated in Game 5 on Kings defenseman Alec Martinez's rebound goal in double overtime. Prior to the series winner, New York winger Rick Nash had an open net, but his shot was deflected by the stick of Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov. It was that kind of series for Nash, who was held without a goal or a point despite taking 18 shots.
|The New York Rangers lost in double overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup and had to watch the Kings celebrate. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said the loss will "haunt" his team for "some time."|
"It was a struggle. It was frustrating. I wish I could've produced a lot more, but I didn't get the job done that I definitely wanted to," Nash said. "It was probably one of the most frustrating times of my career during this playoff stretch, not being able to produce."
All-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who carried the Rangers throughout their unlikely run to the finals, posted a .923 save percentage during the series. He still seemed dejected as he addressed reporters at his locker.
"I really tried to challenge myself to leave everything out there," Lundqvist said. "You learn a lot from it and you appreciate those moments, for sure, but it's gonna be a couple weeks now where it's gonna hurt a little bit, there's no question about it."
The Rangers weren't expected to advance as far as they did, not after they started the regular season 16-18-2 under new coach Alain Vigneault. But they turned it around from there, really taking off after the Olympic break.
They won their first two playoff rounds in seven games -- coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to advance past the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 2. The Rangers won the Eastern Conference finals 4-2 over the Montreal Canadiens before getting eliminated by the Kings, who won their second title in the past three seasons.
"I think we came together not only in the dressing room but on the ice, as well," Nash said. "Like I said earlier, I've never played with a tighter group than this one."
Unfortunately, the 2014-15 Rangers won't look the same as the 2013-14 team.
New York has 11 impending free agents (five restricted, six unrestricted), most of whom are in line for raises. That is why it appears a fait accompli that the Rangers will use their remaining compliance buyout on center Brad Richards, who still has six years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $6.67 million. Richards did not address reporters after being the first player to meet with Vigneault on Monday, but the coach said no decision has been made on the 34-year-old's future at this point. The Rangers are still conducting organizational meetings at this juncture.
Unrestricted free agents Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman both addressed their futures. Boyle said he wants a bigger role going forward, while Vigneault said he is extremely comfortable with Boyle in his current role as a top penalty-killer and hulking fourth-liner. Given those sentiments, it's possible, even probable that Boyle will choose to leave the organization and sign with another team.
Meanwhile, Stralman said he'd like to return, but cited that his No. 1 priority is getting security for his family. The team's other notable free agents include center Derick Brassard (restricted), left winger Chris Kreider (restricted), right winger Mats Zuccarello (restricted) and center Benoit Pouliot (unrestricted).
At this point, the Rangers did not announce that any of their players would need offseason surgery. Backup netminder Cam Talbot revealed that he missed the Stanley Cup final after breaking a bone in his right hand during warm-ups prior to Game 6 against Montreal. It will be able to heal without any procedures, Talbot said.
Vigneault said he had not compiled a list of candidates to replace Ulf Samuelsson should the assistant leave for a head-coaching job elsewhere.