NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Whether it’s Ryan McDonagh’s hand or Eric Staal’s and Dan Girardi’s upper body injuries, it seems the Rangers have a new ailment to deal with every couple of days.
But coach Alain Vigneault told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Monday the Rangers will enter their playoff series almost at full strength.
McDonagh was the only player Vigneault seemed unsure about, calling the captain “day to day.” He expects everyone else to be available.
He, however, revealed goalie Henrik Lundqvist was battling flu-like symptoms at practice Monday. The Blueshirts open the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night at Pittsburgh.
Despite the bumps and bruises the Rangers (46-27-9) have endured in recent weeks, Vigneault said he feels good about his team entering the postseason.
“We had another, in my estimation anyway, a good season,” the coach said. “We got over a hundred points. It’s not an easy league. It’s very competitive. We did have some ups and downs like any team normally has in an 82-game schedule. But we took some strides. We improved parts of our games. Our power play is going better right now. Our penalty killing got better as the season went on. Our road record improved as the season went on. So this group here is a battle-tested group. It’s got a lot of experience in big games.”
The Rangers and Penguins have met four times since Feb. 10. The Rangers are 1-2-1 in those games.
Pittsburgh enters the series red hot, having won 14 of their last 16 games.
‘We know they’re on top of their game,” Vigneault said. “Our challenge is to play our best hockey of the year at this time, and we’re ready for it. We’ve talked about it. We’ve talked about the areas that we need to be real good against Pittsburgh.”
In praising Lundqvist’s competiveness and preparation, Vigneault said had to force him off the ice Monday because the goalie was feeling ill. The coach said he expects Lundqvist to resume practicing Tuesday.
“When I talk about the will and the will to win, you see it in Henrik, and you see it in his performances,” Vigneault said. “It seems the bigger of a game, the better he plays, and that’s what we need right now, not just from Henrik, but we need that from our whole team.”
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.