Posted on May 2, 2008 03:52 PM | Permalink
The post-game adrenaline rush having subsided, the New York Rangers weren't making any bold proclamations today about having turned their entire Eastern Conference semifinal series around.
However, having finally broken through after losing the first three tight games, the Rangers believe they at least planted some seed of doubt among the young Pittsburgh Penguins while reinforcing their own notion that they're not yet finished.
Asked what his team might have accomplished psychologically by winning Game 4 Thursday night in Madison Square Garden, Rangers coach Tom Renney replied: "Maybe a bit of a dent in the armour. And we're talking about pretty thick armour here. So we have to keep it all in perspective and recognize we won a hockey game. We had some very strong individual performances. We had some strong specialty teams.
"It is something, without question, to build on. We probably shouldn't look anymore into it than that."
60 minutes of focus
Veteran winger Brendan Shanahan similarly wasn't pointing to late-game chippiness by Pittsburgh superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby as signs of a major meltdown. Shanahan was more encouraged that the Rangers played forcefully until the end of Game 4 and didn't just hang on.
"I think it was definitely one of those games where emotions have been high in the series," Shanahan said. "Different people express their frustrations in different ways. We were just happy that we were able to remain focused and kind of finished it the way we wanted and not necessarily scrambling in our end."
In a conference call with reporters, Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien downplayed the two slew-foots Malkin deployed against Rangers defenceman Paul Mara. And Therrien also said his young stars' last-minute physicality were more signs of competitiveness than cracks.
"Sometimes those types of players can get frustrated," Therrien said. "(Malkin's) a winner, he's a competitor, that's the emotion of the game. It wasn't a spearing like Avery did to Fleury. If anything, it's a two-minute penalty."
Asked if Crosby was getting frustrated with not having scored a goal in the series, Therrien said: "He gets emotional. That's part of the game. And when he does, sometimes frustration is part of that too. That's what makes him such a fierce competitor. You know he's going to come back.
“When you see him with that fire in his eyes, you know he's ready to go."