Vigneault wants the line of Brad Richards, left, and Martin St. Louis to step up. Credit: Getty Images
It would be hyperbole to label Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final a referendum on Brad Richards' legacy as a Ranger.
Yet, there was no masking head coach Alain Vigneault's message to Richards and his linemates following the Rangers' morning skate Monday at the Garden.
More, much more, is expected.
"I'm sure Brad, with his experience, knows that their whole line needs to be better," Vigneault said.
Game 2 was not one the line of Richards, Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin will add to their resumes.
The Rangers' second line was ghastly in the 5-4 double overtime loss Saturday night, notwithstanding St. Louis' goal and the trio's 12 attempted shots. Richards, St. Louis and Hagelin combined for a minus-8 rating in the game, and the trio was on the ice for Dustin Brown's game-winning goal.
"If you look at the stats on that night, it obviously wasn't one of their better nights," Vigneault said. "They're veteran guys. They've been around. They can evaluate their game real well. I'm sure they're going to have a good bounce-back game.
"Brad is a veteran player. I know he's going to respond real well. I'm confident that's what he's going to do."
For a team which found itself trailing 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Final, despite having held multiple goal leads in the first two games, the Rangers spoke confidently about their prospects heading into the first Stanley Cup Final game contested in New York City since June 14, 1994.
"I think we have to be willing to compete," Dan Girardi said. "Willing to make the right play every shift. They don't take a shift off. They're throwing everything they have at us.
"We need to be ready every shift to compete, make every little play. Obviously in the two overtimes, little plays hurt us. We had the lead for the majority of the two games, [so] obviously we've been doing something right. We just have to find a way to [not] take a shift off, or don't make a little mistake that will cost us."
Costly mistakes were themes in Games 1 and 2. Girardi couldn't clear the puck in Game 1, leading to Justin Williams' game-winner in overtime. In Game 2, Ryan McDonagh was unable to clear Brown from the slot, and the Kings' captain was able to deflect Willie Mitchell's point shot past Henrik Lundqvist.
"They don't take any shifts off," Girardi said. "Every time they come onto the ice you know you're going to see the same thing from them: They're going to be on the forecheck, hard, banging bodies, putting pucks to the net. They do that really consistently.
"They've been [in the Stanley Cup Final] before, and they have a lot of playoff experience. We have to make sure we find that extra level to compete with their high energy."
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter@DenisGorman.