Henrik Lundqvist thinks the Rangers just need to battle harder.
“It’s the mindset to will yourself to win battles all over the ice,” the veteran goalie told reporters after Saturday’s 4-1 loss in Montreal. “I think this game is all about battles, and that’s been the biggest difference in our last four games — winning the battles all over the ice, in front of the net, along the boards. Then I need to come up with the big save when I have to. We need to have more desperation than the other team.”
Saturday’s defeat was the the third in the Rangers’ last four games, and it led to the recalls of Tanner Glass and Steven Kampfer ahead of tonight’s test in Tampa.
“This just gives us a little more flexibility as far as lineup decisions,” explained head coach Alain Vigneault, who also thinks the Rangers need to fight harder.
“You’ve got to compete and you’ve got to battle hard and you’ve got to battle hard for puck battles and you’ve got to win your share,” Vigneault said. “I do think that in the last couple games there in those puck battle situations, we could have been better.”
It remains to be seen if Glass or Kampfer will get into the lineup tonight, but the Rangers can expect to face a desperate opponent. The Lightning are three points back of the Islanders for the second wild-card spot, and with only 18 games remaining, time is quickly running out.
The Rangers, meanwhile, are comfortably in a playoff spot, but they’ll want to head into the postseason feeling good about their game. Last year, the Penguins made quick work of them in the first round.
“I think our focus is just on the process of getting better,” said forward Derek Stepan. “Avoid seeking results and just work as a group to get better each night. The results will come with us getting better as a group and this is a great opportunity.”