In a beachfront hotel, not far from the famous Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel, the Rangers and coach Alain Vingeault didn't plan on going in circles before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday.
They would rest and regroup Thursday after the the ups and downs of Game 1's overtime loss, make some adjustments, and then practice on Friday at Staples Center.
They rallied around Dan Girardi, players said, and Vigneault sharply critiqued some unnamed players who he felt had not brought their "A-game" against the stronger Kings.
Carl Hagelin, one of three players available to the media, thought that "in the first period we did a great job of using our speed, getting pucks deep, also getting pucks at the net, which gave us some offensive time, a couple faceoffs in the offensive zone. In the third we had way too many turnovers, didn't get deep enough in their zone. If you give them time to skate with the puck, time to spend a lot of time in our end, they're going to do a good job. They have big bodies. They're never going to give up."
Ryan McDonagh, Girardi's defense partner, said the veteran's turnover
wasn't the deciding factor in the game ultimately. We could have done a
lot more to help our chances. It's unfortunate that it happens to us at that point in the game. But he's a guy that has been through so many ups and downs in his career, we know he's going to bounce back and be a huge part of our Game 2 here.
Added Hagelin: "I think what we've been doing is coming back stronger in the game after we lose.'G' is a big part of this team, a great leader. He plays a lot of heavy minutes for us. It's unfortunate that happened. He's going to
bounce back next game."
"You never want to make a mistake," said Derek Stepan. "That's for every single guy in our team. Dan is a huge part of our hockey club. I know that he's probably moved way past it and he's getting himself ready to play the next game. We've all been there, like Mac said. If there's a professional that can move away from it, it is Dan."
McDonagh said he spoke to Girardi right after the game. "Me and him are a pretty talkative pairing. No matter what happens, bad play, good play, we're talking about it, trying to improve, trying to make sure we're on the same page as much as possible. If it was flip-flopped and it was me, he would have came to me and asked me, What could we have done differently, what could we have done better? That's the beauty of our pairing and the beauty of him, too.
"He doesn't sulk... so to speak, think about the what-ifs. He just tries to correct it, see what he can do better, and we're there supporting him....It's an unfortunate play. In those situations, especially at that point of the game, we've got to understand that when a guy is in trouble, maybe it's not the right time to leave the zone. That was one of those guys that left the zone, anticipating a play that we were going to get it out."
As for Vigneault, he singled out Henrik Lundqvist as one of the players who brought his "A" game, but didn't name any others.
“When we played Game 6 against Montreal, each and every player brought his A game,” Vigneault said. “It’s not an easy thing to do. But against this opponent, I do believe our expectations are to win, we’ve got to find a way to do it. The B-game won't cut it." The Kings, he said, bring structure, skill and physicality and "are one of the best teams I've seen in a long time."