First, thanks to Michael Lewis for pinch-hitting today and filing some notes from his interviews that I'll share here...
Ryan McDonagh believes the "hockey gods are testing us."
"The last few games we've gotten a little bit too aggressive and given up too many odd-man rushes. It's getting back to focusing -- we were doing a little controlled scrimmmage today -- focusing on having a third forward high and making good reads on when to pinch and when not to pinch and just maybe bit a little more patient as opposed to kind of forcing the offense. I look back at some of our games. We were in real good defensive position, which led to our offensive chances. That's just an adjustment we're working on and a little bit different mindset."
On facing former Blue Jackets teammates Thursday, Derek Dorsett, as you might imagine, insisted that two points matter more than the opponent:
"We've got to pull together. With Cally going down, and Staalsie, gives guys opportunities to get more minutes. That's when you've got to see what guys are made of. I think we've got to come out with a solid effort tomorrow night. Columbus is going to come in and work hard and we have to make sure we out-match them."
Derick Brassard, another former Jacket, did not practice. Coach Alain Vigneault said he fell on his "posterior" during the loss to the the Preds, and should be ready for Thursday.
Here's more from Vigneault, who took a positive tone::
"As far as work ethic, practices, off ice work, this group works as hard as any group I have been associated with. It hasn't translated to what I expect on the ice as far as performance and results, but I believe the work ethic that they're doing and everything that's under their control, hopefully the results are going to change in a positive way.
Do you remember a season this frustrating for you?
If you have been in the game as long as I have you've had your moments. This is going to happen. I look at last night's game. We're trying to play a little bit tighter and we gave up 11 scoring chances. Two of their goals are very unfortunate. Ryan gets hurt on that play and he can't get up and defend and the other one, Zuke swoops in in front of our net and he ends up sitting on the ice with an open net. Two unfortunate incidents. With a little bit of better luck, we could have been on the right side of those plays defensively and we weren't.
Boyle seemed to be a guy with the absences in the lineup you rotated in the lineup. He was on the power play more. Is that going to be game to game or are you hoping to give Brian a bigger shot here?
Last night when we lost Cally we needed an up-front presence, one guy we have used in the past is Pouliot .... and he wasn't dressed last night. And so you go down the slots and you've got Brian, whose got some experience that we used. But depending on his play, if he deserves to play more, he's going to play more.
Do you look at the standings. You're not where you want to be, but it's still encouraging that you're still right there?
That will be looking at the glass half full, I guess. Obviously, we're still right in the hunt, which is very positive considering the dynamic of our team right now and the struggles that we've been having. For now, we're going to focus on trying to play a little bit tighter, you build and you get a little bit of confidence. This group should be able to play a good, tight game.
Considering any call-ups?
We were in the process of doing that this morning early on, but the management and scouts are meeting in pro scouts meetings right now. I have not been able to continue the conversation.
Do you feel the team puts too much pressure on itself trying to win at home?
I've got a tough time with that, the home and road way. Our fans have been outstanding. We haven't given them a lot to cheer, anyway. They've been supportive. From the bench we're hearing, 'Let's go Rangers!' We got down by one or two last night and we kept hearing them. They've been behind us. We need that support. We're fighting it right now on the ice. The confidence of a few of our guys not to where it needs to be. That support is needed and that support is appreciated.