The Rangers gathered at the MSG Training Center one last time as a team this season on Monday, taking part in exit interviews with the coaches, physicals with the training staff, and meeting with reporters. To a man the players said they were still grappling with the pain of being eliminated by the Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night, while understanding the great strides the team made in 2011-12.
"It's going to hurt for a couple of weeks," stated goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. "Eventually I will reflect on the season and the playoffs, but right now I am trying to get away from it and take a step back. But I do want to try and learn something from it. It's been a great year, so many great things happened, it's about the ride, but in the end it comes down to winning. We have to find a way to be better next year."
Center Brian Boyle told reporters that he hadn't spent too much time analyzing how the Rangers fell short against the Devils, and instead had just spent the past two days with his teammates away from hockey. He emphasized that the "sting" of being eliminated still is with him, though.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella said it was important that the Rangers "aren't content" with the success they achieved this season, even though he stressed many positives with the team, including how it "accelerated" its growing process this year.
As for losing to the Devils, Tortorella broke it down quite succinctly by explaining, "I think you need to give Jersey a little credit the way they played, but your best players need to be your best and our best were not the best enough of the time. And I just don't want to dump it on them. We just did not play enough minutes in that Jersey series. They deserved to win because they were the better team at that particular time."
As far as moving forward and looking ahead to next season, Tortorella said that the Rangers should not look past acquiring more scoring just because a certain player may not fit the mold of the current Blueshirt identity.
"We have to work extremely hard to score goals," noted Tortorella. "We have to progress as a hockey club."
Alternate captain Marc Staal added," I think we have a lot of the pieces already in the room, and we saw that this year. I think we made a good run and we are confident with the group we have in here. We finishe din first place so the regular season was successful, but we fell short (in the playoffs) and we can't be happy about that."
Among the other important pieces of news to come out of break up day:
- Brandon Dubinsky explained that he suffered a very severe high ankle sprain in Game 7 against the Senators in the first round of the playoffs and that he would not be fully healed for another 6-8 weeks
- Tortorella spoke about concussed defenseman Michael Sauer and said that there is serious concern about his future, and said the team can not count on him right now for next season. "It's a huge question mark. I just saw Michael for the first time in months today. He's certainly not where he needs to be even to start working out."
- Rookie Chris Kreider said the time from signing his first pro contract at the start of the playoffs through Game 6 against the Devils, "was a whirlwind...just crazy...it started fast, and ended too fast." Tortorella said that Kreider "has a pretty good on his shoulders", but would have to go through the normal rookie process next season.
- Brandon Prust said that he needed off-season surgery on his left ring finger to repair a tendon he tore in a fight with Ottawa's Zenon Konopka last January.
- Defenseman Michael Del Zotto said that he would rushing home to be with his family in Ontario following the passing of his grandmother nine days ago. Del Zotto also revealed that he attended her funeral between Games 5 and 6 against the Devils last week. He also said that his impending restricted free agent status is "not anything I've been worried about".
- Center Brian Boyle admitted that he never felt like he found his game in the playoffs after suffering a concussion on a hit delivered by Ottawa's Chris Neil. "My head was fine, but I was a step slow. It was like jumping back on a speeding train."
- Dubinsky, the Rangers player representative said of the upcoming talks between the owners and players on a new collective bargaining agreement, "The good thing is we want to make sure we find a way to get a fair deal done, and get a deal done, because that's the the way to be most fair to the fans. I am confident that we'll be able to make that happen, especially after what a disaster it was last time around. I think both sides are a little more anxious to find a way to get something done."