SUNRISE, FLA -- Less than 24 hours after a frustrating last-minute defeat in Tampa to the Lightning, the Rangers were back on the ice practicing in Sunrise, FL on Friday afternoon. Though it was only the team's first loss in ten games, and first in regulation since October 15, the players were still angry about Thursday's 2-1 defeat the next day.
"It's a competitive group, we hate to lose," explained team captain Ryan McDonagh on Friday. "Even if we don't play up to par we are not happy because we have very high expectations, both individually and as a team collectively. We are always striving to play to the level we expect of ourselves."
As a result of that group mentality, the Rangers went out Friday and skated hard in practice, letting go of the irritation they felt in the wake of a last-minute 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before to focus on ways to improve their overall game--which head coach Alain Vigneault said on Friday was not all that bad.
"There's no doubt that everybody was disappointed about last night's result," offered Vigneault. "I don't expect the guys to be happy about the result, but I do think we played a pretty good game."
Veteran defenseman Dan Boyle was understanding of Thursday's defeat, as well as the team's angry reaction to it.
"No one is going 82-0," Boyle told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "You're going to win games you're not supposed to and you're going to lose games you're not supposed to. Last game was probably one of those nights we should have won. Good teams know how to ride the highs and limit the lows. So it's always our goal not to let a loss become a losing streak."
Last season was a prime example of what Boyle was speaking about. The Rangers won the President's Trophy with a franchise record 113 points, suffering only one losing skid of three games. It is the way of this team, not to let one bad game or one defeat string together with more to follow.
It is something the Rangers will most certainly carry with them going into Saturday's battle with the Florida Panthers.
"How you handle negativity and when things don't go your way is a huge part of the success of the team," stated McDonagh. "You don't pout, complain, or get down on yourself. Instead you get excited about another opportunity. For us that meant letting go, having a real good practice, and getting ready for another hard-fought team."