NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Touting his team’s speed, balance and experience, Alain Vigneault said Tuesday he believes his Rangers have just as good a chance of hoisting the Stanley Cup as any team in the playoffs.
“There’s so little separating any of the teams,” the Rangers coach told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “It’s about getting a little bit of momentum. You get that momentum, you get a little bit of confidence, you get a little bit of swagger, and with the experience I feel that we have — in the last five years, this group has played the most playoff games — this experience we have will help out our younger players that are on our team. And if we can get that little momentum, that good start in that first game, then we’re going to be tough to handle.”
The Rangers open their first-round playoff series at Montreal on Wednesday night.
Vigneault said he knows it will be a tough series, but he believes this year’s Rangers are a different squad than the one that was eliminated by the eventual champion Penguins in five games in the 2016 first round.
“I feel that this year we’re quicker,” Vigneault said. “We’ve got more speed that we can put on display. I think that speed can help us both defensively and offensively. If the other team doesn’t manage the puck well against us, our transition game can really get to you, and that’s what I’m banking on.
“Our group right now is mentally strong, it’s healthy, it’s ready, and it’s really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Vigneault added that his team won’t be intimidated by Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who is 15-5-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average a .940 save percentage in his career against the Rangers.
“I think our group has so much experience that they all understand that if you’re in the playoffs, if you’re one of those 16 teams, it’s because you’ve gotten great goaltending,” Vigneault said. “We’ve got great goaltending, and I would tell you Montreal has and the other 14 teams that are in have got real solid goaltending. So this is what you expect this time of the year.”
To listen to the interview, click on the audio player above.