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Stanley Cup Final loss continues to sting for Rangers

by Dan Rosen /

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Three days later, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is still a picture of devastation.

"It's going to be a couple of weeks now where it's going to hurt," Lundqvist said Monday as he put a bow on the 2013-14 season while sitting in his locker stall at the Madison Square Garden Training Center.

Lundqvist will spend the next few weeks trying to come to grips with having his dream die on the ice Friday night at Staples Center, when Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings beat him for a double-overtime, Stanley Cup Final-clinching goal Lundqvist won't soon forget.

The Kings beat the Rangers 4-1 in the Cup Final. They won three games in overtime, including two in double overtime. Lundqvist knows he'll eventually have to move on. He knows he'll have to soon start preparing for next season. But not yet.

It was apparent Monday that starting over again next season was the furthest thing from Lundqvist's mind. He's not alone.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said the outcome in the Cup Final will haunt him and the team for some time.

"Three games, two of them in double overtime and one of them in overtime, with some of the looks we had to score …," Vigneault said. "I firmly believe that if we got that done, that fifth game -- I know in L.A. they didn't believe in momentum, but I thought we would have had a little momentum there. But we didn't get it done."

Rangers wing Rick Nash said watching the light at the end of the tunnel go dark is "pretty tough to digest."

"We still felt we had a lot of confidence and a lot of belief in each other, and at any point in the series we felt we were going to turn it around, make it happen, accomplish what we were trying to do," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "When it ended, it's pretty shocking. It's a pretty devastating feeling."

That devastation is going to linger, especially for Lundqvist, who is replaying Martinez's Cup-clinching goal over and over in his mind, searching for answers why the Rangers lost four out of five games, why they lost three in overtime.

"Eventually you have to stop," Lundqvist said.

The hurt is still raw, the wound still open for him to stop thinking about it now.

"It's always like that when the season is over; you keep thinking about things and you try to learn from it, but after a while you kind of move on," Lundqvist said. "I think this year, after this season, it's going to take a little longer, at least for me, to take that step."

Lundqvist will continue his coping back home in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he hopes being around family and friends will push him into the future. He's confident it will, eventually.

"It's a good first step to put this season behind you and move on," Lundqvist said. "I appreciate a lot of what happened this year. It's been a good year."

He said the Rangers should have better years ahead, even though there is so much uncertainty heading into the offseason.

Eight of the 18 skaters who dressed for the Rangers in the Cup Final can become a free agents on July 1, including six who can become unrestricted. The club has to figure out what to do with center Brad Richards. Do they issue him a compliance buyout or do they keep him?

"We've got a core group that I'd like to see if we can't keep together, but there are limitations to that," Vigneault said. "There are financial restrictions that come into the process and decision making, but there are some real good people in that dressing room, just some real quality individuals. Hopefully we can do a good job of keeping these parts together."

One thing that is for certain is Lundqvist will still be the star of the team even if his supporting cast changes. His seven-year contract extension kicks in next season, and he thinks the Rangers are on track for even bigger things ahead.

"A lot of times it starts with what we expect from each other, not only as players but from the entire organization," Lundqvist said. "To be close and to get closer, I think it raises your expectations for next year. That's important, that you want to be there and you really need to challenge yourself to get there too.

"You just have to make sure you make it all the way next time."

Because when you don't, the devastation lingers. Lundqvist is still a picture of that. He likely will be for a while.

"It kills you," Lundqvist said, "but you just have to get up again and try and do it again."


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