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Rangers Not Using Fatigue as an Excuse

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

Defenseman Dan Girardi has played 88 playoff games since the start of the 2012 tournament, while fellow blueliners Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal have 79 and 70 postseason contests, respectively. Forwards Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider have 80 and 65 playoff games, respectively, since the start of 2012.

In net, Henrik Lundqvist has appeared in 116 playoff games in his career, including an astounding 81 since the 2012 tournament that saw the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1997, and what would turn out to be the first in a four-year span through the 2015 tournament.

In essence, the Rangers have play a lot of playoff hockey over the last handful of years. But don't expect them to use that as a crutch as to why they fell to Pittsburgh in five games this playoff.

"It certainly shouldn't have," Stepan said. "You have to find a way — if you take deep runs you take deep runs — you've got to find a way to be able to regroup yourself at the start of the next season and get yourself ready to play in the playoffs.

"Your first goal is to make the playoffs and by playoff time next year, you should be ready to go," Stepan added. "It shouldn't take a toll on you."

Lundqvist, who has started 114 consecutive playoff games for New York, said once the tournament begins, fatigue should be moved to the back of a player's head.

"You don't want to find any excuses because when you do get [to the playoffs], you're so excited to play," he said. "But you try and put all the fact on the table and yeah, we have played a lot of hockey over the last few years, but when you're right in it, you don't want to think about that. You don't want to find excuses for not playing your best."

With the way the season ended on Saturday, there are few positives to take from this disappointing playoff, but one is that these Rangers with mileage on their bodies from extended playoff runs are now afforded some respite to regroup before training camp reconvenes in September.

"We've played a lot of hockey since I've been here," Stepan said. "I don't think I've been home before June 1. My rookie year, we lost to Washington in five and I went to the World Championships, so this will be the first time I've been home before June 1. We've got 16 weeks as a group. It certainly should be time to get our off ice training in and really focus on getting ourselves — it starts tomorrow for everybody to focus on what we can do to be better next year."

Lundqvist said the ups and downs were often this season, giving the 2015-16 campaign a different feel than ones in recent years, namely 2012 and 2015, when the Rangers were one of the top teams in the NHL. In 2014, of course, the team went to the Stanley Cup Final.

Lundqvist added there is plenty to take from the disappointing finish that can better the group in 2016-17.

"There's been some great experiences over the last couple of years, but this is an experience you'll learn from," Lundqvist said. "How can we do better during the regular season to be more consistent, and how we can be more on top of our game going into the playoffs next year."

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