Leg up: Rangers take early lead in claiming underdog role

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Kudos to New York head coach Alain Vigneault for getting out quickly in the “no no, we’re the underdog” challenge:

It’s become an annual rite of passage for coaches to try and position their team as the one nobody thought could win. We’ve seen it extensively this postseason, especially out west — in Round 2, Darryl Sutter suggested the Kings were underdogs going into Game 7 against Anaheim, only for Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau to counter with “you can ask anybody who they think the underdog is, and the underdog’s us.”

(The Kings ended up pounding Anaheim 6-2 in Game 7, so I guess Boudreau was right.)

The Sharks tried a similar strategy in Round 1, suggesting they were the underdogs to L.A. despite finishing 11 points clear of the Kings in the Pacific Division standings and holding home-ice advantage. Between what happened to the Sharks and Ducks, it makes you wonder if Vigneault should’ve employed some reverse psychology and anointed the Rangers the favorites, just to shake it up a bit.

Oh, and just in case you don’t think Sutter would even try to position the Kings as an underdog, consider what he said after Sunday’s Game 7 win over Chicago…

Q. Up against the Rangers, what are your initial thoughts on them?

COACH SUTTER: Great goaltending. Great defense. Great forwards. Great special teams.

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