GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Given the Rangers' maddening inability to get more than one of 44 shots past Boston goalie Tuuka Rask in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss -- and the building exasperation of scoring only two goals in their past three games -- they set about liberating their offensive angst by peppering goalie Henrik Lundqvist in a final practice exercise Wednesday.
In a rebound drill, in which Lundqvist is hopefully outnumbered by one shooter, 15 feet away, firing through a corridor of 10 or so teammates waiting to hammer at a deflection, Lundqvist repeatedly was beaten, prompting the offensive players to raise sticks in loud celebration with satisfied whoops.
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When the last puck was past Lundqvist, he skated toward the locker room, braking at the bench to hurl all of the extra sticks onto the ice in mock anger. Which led to more offensive rejoicing.
Lundqvist giggled at the suggestion that his mates were taking out their low-scoring frustrations on him. "They were just trying to tick me off," he said. "And they did. That's their goal."
For a team that is 10-11, with considerably balky production lately, the Rangers were noticeably loose as they prepared to embark on a five-game road trip, beginning Thursday in Dallas.
"We can't get down," said Brad Richards, one of six Rangers who put at least four shots on goal Tuesday night, with nothing to show for it.
"I was watching highlights this morning and pucks were going in all different ways," he said. "And you see our highlights, and nothing's going in, going through goalies and posts and everything else. You can't get down on that. We can't script out a better plan than what we did last night."
The consensus of the team, including coach Alain Vigneault, was to keep on keeping on.
"We have to make sure we keep working and keep working properly, keep doing the right things," Vigneault said. "The line between a win and a loss is so fine, and right now we're on the wrong side of that line. But we've been as solid defensively as I've seen any team, and offensively we're getting the Grade-A chances, and the right people are getting the chances. We just have to believe that sooner or later, they're going to go in."
Forward Rick Nash's response to that was "they have to. We need 'em. We just need to produce. It's got to be a mentality of outworking the goaltenders. You've got to love to score, you've got to want to score. You can't just be shooting to shoot. Just keep going. You've got to work; that's the toughest part."
From the other end of the ice, where his job is to guard against scoring, Lundqvist's analysis was "it's better not to think too much about scoring. Just go out there and play our game and things will happen, good things will happen."