Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault couldn’t mask his anger Tuesday when asked about his team’s mood one day before facing elimination in the Stanley Cup Final.
“We’re down 3-0,” Vigneault said. “We’re all lacking sleep. This is tough. I didn’t expect my players today to be cheery and upbeat. We’re in the Stanley Cup Final and we’re down 3-0. You don’t get a lot of these opportunities.
“Excuse us if today we’re not real cheery. But tomorrow I can tell you we’re going to show up.”
For the fifth time in this playoff campaign, the Rangers are facing an elimination game. But unlike Game 7 against the Flyers, and Games 5 and 7 against the Penguins, the Rangers seem accepting of their fate.
“We believed that wasn’t it for us,” Marc Staal said of his team’s mindset after falling behind the Penguins, 3-1. “We weren’t going to lose the series that way. We knew we had better. Our focus was playing one solid game.”
"The same goes for right now. You don't want end your season losing a game at home and giving the Stanley Cup to the other team. That's not going happen that way."
Even if the Rangers win in Game 4, history is not on their side. Four teams in NHL history have come back to win a series after falling behind 0-3. Only one, the 1942 Leafs, did it in the Stanley Cup Final.
"I'm not going to lie to you," Brad Richards said. "It's pretty much impossible to be upbeat."
The Kings are averaging 3.50 goals per game over the course of the playoffs, and have scored 11 goals in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Defensively, Los Angeles' 2.75 goals against average ranks sixth in the playoffs, and the Kings have limited the Rangers to two goals per game in the Stanley Cup Final.
"The bottom line is we haven't done enough to win a hockey game against these guys," Staal said. "That has to change, obviously. Pick at what you want to pick at. We haven't done enough to win and we have to change that, and try to get one tomorrow.
"We obviously have expectations to come in and not be down 3-0 at the start of the Stanley Cup Final. It's not where we wanted to be. It's the way it's gone the last three games and [we] can't do [anything] about it now. Obviously it's hard waking up today being in the position we're in. You [have] to digest it a little bit, wake up [Wednesday] and focus on winning that one hockey game."
The Rangers could also use some good fortune as a jumping off point.
"A couple of their goals, they get some deflections," Staal said. "It's the game of hockey, you start throwing pucks at the net, you get opportunities. Sometimes they bounce in for you, sometimes they don't. So [hopefully] they start tomorrow night. [We have to] create our own luck, our own bounces."
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.