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Rangers Message Is Simple for Game 6: We've Got to Bring it

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said one of the benefits of having experience heading into elimination games is that players with it have a better understand of how to focus on the task at hand.

That task, of course, is winning Game 6 Tuesday night against the Senators to avoid their season coming to an end.

"I believe in this group. We're going to rely on our experience," he said. "With experience, you can see things evolving a little bit quicker, you can focus on the right things, you can play with confidence because you've been through it before. I'm very confident that our leadership is going to be ready. They're going to bring it and they're going to have a real good game."

One of those players with experience is Derek Stepan, who is set to appear in his 22nd career playoff game in which the Rangers face elimination. The career-Ranger said the key to success in these games is not looking at the big picture, but rather several small ones within the game.

"Our group has been through quite a bit of them," he said. "It's cliché … but really the best way to look at it is just focusing in on the first period and trying to do your job each individual shift in that first period and kind of take it a step at a time."

It feels like a lifetime ago that the Rangers were answering questions about why they had difficulty winning at Madison Square Garden in the playoffs. But since a loss in Game 3 against Montreal, the Blueshirts have ticked off four straight wins, including back-to-back 4-1 victories over Ottawa in Games 3 and 4 that saw New York control the play in both ends of the rink.

"It's important to take care of business when you're in your home building," Stepan said. "I thought we've done some real good things at home, so we've got to find what gave us success in those two games and try to apply it in Game 6."

The ace in the hole for the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist, who has more often than not shined in games when the Rangers face elimination.

The netminder is 15-5 with two shutouts in his last 20 games that the Rangers have needed a win to avoid elimination dating back to Game 6 against the Senators in 2012.

Somehow, he's been even better at home. No. 30 is 10-1 record with a 1.05 GAA, a .965 SV%, and two shutouts in his last 11 games in which the Rangers have faced elimination at MSG, dating back to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh in 2008.

"You try to put everything in a positive way so it helps you," Lundqvist said Monday. "Is it a pressure situation? Yes, but you just try to enjoy that and see it as a great challenge. 

Right now, you do whatever you can to raise your level and be ready tomorrow to play your best game and see how far it takes you," he added. "No matter what happens, you want to feel like you left everything out there."

Vigneault said the Rangers need "Hank to be Hank" in Game 6, but that he feels his team is in a good place mentally heading into the do-or-die contest Tuesday night. Nerves, of course, are natural.

"I think everyone is real upbeat about coming here and playing in front of our fans," he said. "We're looking forward to the game tomorrow. Normal to be nervous. If you're not nervous, you're not human. You've got to make sure you control your thoughts and control your emotions. We've got to bring it. We've got to bring it. It's as simple as that."

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