Henrik Lundqvist’s tone was calm and even, but his words captured the state of the Rangers:
“We need to think about desperation here in the next game and try to play our best and see how far that takes us,” the goaltender said after practice Monday as the Rangers prepared for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Canadiens.
“It starts with that. Just come into the building tomorrow and we leave everything out there and try to tie it up. That’s a great challenge for us. Don’t overthink.”
Lundqvist was not the only Ranger to speak of a need for desperation, or at least for an uptick in energy after a dreary 3-1 loss in Game 3. But such language is not common to goalies, for whom calm usually is the best policy.
In Lundqvist’s case, he was acting in his role as a team spokesman, as the most celebrated player on the roster, and as someone who after an up-and-down regular season has played well enough to win in these playoffs.
“I think the playoffs is a lot about will and lot about the mental part of the game,” he said. “[In] skill, the difference between the teams is not very big. So it comes down to determination in every battle over the ice, in front of the net, blue lines, the small places. The small places make a big difference in the playoffs.”
Like everyone else on the Rangers roster and coaching staff, Lundqvist was asked to analyze their problems on home ice, both in the 2016-17 regular season and over the past three playoff seasons, during which they have lost six games in a row and been outscored, 21-4, by the Lightning, Penguins and Canadiens.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You can only go to yourself and prepare the same way and make sure you come here and do whatever you can to help the team. If we have 20 guys doing that tomorrow we’re going to have a good game.
“Not overthink it, just go out there, play our game and work really hard and play together and we can tie it up.”