Rangers are upbeat despite overtime losses
BOSTON -- Unfortunately for the Rangers, not all NHL playoff games end in 60 minutes. When the games have been determined in regulation, they are 4-1 this spring. But beyond regulation, the Rangers are winless in three games, including Thursday night's 3-2 loss to the Bruins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Could the overtime losses be affecting their psyche?
"I don't think it's playing with their head at all," coach John Tortorella said Friday. "It'd be nice to win one, but I don't think it's gotten that far. I'm not so sure it was a bounce of the puck [Thursday]. We were dominated in overtime."
After the Rangers prepared for Sunday's Game 2 at TD Garden with a classroom video session and an optional skate in which only two regulars participated, defenseman Steve Eminger and others said losing in overtime is frustrating but that the extra-session defeats aren't lingering.
"Not at all," said Eminger, who said he wasn't aware that the Rangers had won only three of their last 14 playoff overtime games. "If we make that play at the end, the three-on-two that [Zdeno] Chara intercepts and they come back and score, that could have gone the other way as well."
Rick Nash, the intended recipient of Derick Brassard's long pass that was deflected away by Chara's stick, said overtime losses, including the two against the Washington Capitals in the first round, are quickly forgotten. "It's short-term memory for us. We'll do corrections today, corrections tomorrow," said Nash, who is without a goal in eight playoff games this spring.
The objective going into overtime, he said, is simply "to score a goal, try not to make any mistakes that cost you."
The philosophy of coach Claude Julien -- whose Bruins are 3-0 in overtime in this postseason, including the amazing comeback in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs -- is slightly different.
Julien said he doesn't have any special inspirational sayings during the intermissions before the overtimes. "I'm not going to stand here and say I've got miracle words, because I don't," he said. "I tell them the same thing that probably every coach tells them: 'Every shot is important, don't pass up on them, and play to win.' You've got to go out there and you can't have that fear."
Julien doesn't have an explanation for the success. "You need a little bit of luck, absolutely, but you also need the right attitude,'' he said. "I think we've just gone out there with no fear and we're willing to live with the consequences. If we go out there to win, we'll live with the consequences; if we're playing on our heels, then you have a lot of regrets at the end of the night."
Now the Rangers need to win Game 2 to avoid falling into another 2-0 hole in a best-of-seven series -- as they did in Washington -- before heading back to New York for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.
Besides attempting to ignite the power play (an issue all season and 2-for-31 in the playoffs), bearing down on the forecheck is paramount, the Rangers said.
"Our forecheck has to be better," Ryan Callahan said. "Keep pucks away from [goaltender Tuukka] Rask. He seems to be handling the puck well and breaking up our forecheck. So, harder on their D, and if we do that, we'll create more chances for ourselves."
And perhaps avoid the dreaded overtime.