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Plan Doesn't Change Based on Goaltender

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

There may be questions on both sides for who starts in goal for Game 2 between the Rangers and Penguins, but according to the Blueshirts it doesn't matter.

Several Rangers spoke with the media on Thursday's off day, and each said the game plan doesn't change if Henrik Lundqvist is unable to start for New York, or whether it's goaltender Jeff Zatkoff or Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes for the Penguins.

The plan stays the same.

"Henrik is a huge part of our group," Derek Stepan said Thursday. "It's certainly a guy that we rely on heavily, but it's no different with [Antti Raanta]."

Already missing captain Ryan McDonagh, who remains out with an upper-body injury, Stepan said Raanta will have to fill the void left by Lundqvist if the netminder is unable to compete due to an eye injury. With that said, Stepan said it isn't just the goalie who needs to step up.

"We have to make sure that everyone in this room knows there's going to be bigger roles for guys now," said Stepan, who had both of the team's two goals in Wednesday's Game 1 defeat. "We have more guys having to step up in Hank's absence."

On the flip side, Keith Yandle said the Rangers cannot change their style to match what Pittsburgh did well Wednesday night. The blueliner said New York must stick to what brought them to the dance.

"We've got to play our game," Yandle said. "Obviously they bring a certain aspect with their game. They take risks, they get up in the plays. We've got to do what's gotten us here. That's playing our game. When it's time to jump up in the play and make plays, we've got to."

The Rangers finished Wednesday's game with 37 shots on goal, but felt more could be done to make Zatkoff's night more difficult. That'll be the focus in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, regardless of who starts for the Penguins.

"It doesn't change our mindset or what our tendencies want to be going into the game regardless of their goaltender," Stepan said. "If it's Fleury in net or if it's Zatkoff in net, we still want to do a lot of the same things.

"Guys talk about it all the time; pucks and bodies to the net and make it hard on a goaltender. It doesn't matter who is in net at that point."

The Rangers are as experienced as they come in the postseason. This opening-round series marks the 13th series New York will play in since the start of the 2012 tournament, with five players in Wednesday's lineup who have taken part in all of those series, and another three joining the fray for 2013.

Long story short, the Rangers know there's little reason to hit the panic button after one game.

"It's a race to four," Stepan said bluntly. "We lose Game 1. All we have to really focus on is how do we get better from Game 1 and how we're going to win Game 2. That's our main focus. As a group, we get a day here to try and relax and we'll go back to work tomorrow."

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