By Allan Muir
If there's one thing that New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault took away from his team's 3-2 overtime loss in the opener of the Stanley Cup Final, it's that good won't be good enough to beat the Los Angeles Kings.
"One thing that's real evident to me, and it should be to our whole group, is we're not going to beat this team if we do not all bring our A game," Vigneault said Thursday at his off-day press conference. "It's that strong of an opponent. They're one of the best teams I've seen in a long time."
The rest of his team, he said, couldn't match the 40-save intensity of their goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist.
"[He] that brought his A game last night. We had a couple guys...I don't want to name who I think brought their A game, but our B game won't do it. We're not going to win if we bring our B game to the table.
"We have to be better than we were."
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Although the Rangers carried the play early in on the contest when they used their speed to great effect, Vigneault says it will be a challenge to poke holes in an opponent that got stronger as the game went on.
"I thought our first 40 [minutes] was good," he said. "Both teams were battling real hard. I'm not quite sure yet what happened in the third. I haven't sat down with our players yet to discuss it. But obviously our game in the third wasn't good enough. They had a real strong push.
"They were a good team in the years past. They're a real good team now. It's obvious they've got more experience. They play their game plan to a T and they don't deviate in any shape, way or form, so that makes it real challenging for the opposition."
Vigneault talked briefly about the possible return of defenseman John Moore, who served the second of his two-game suspension in Game 1. "Johnny has been one of our consistent six defensemen that we've rolled all year. If we do go that way, I'm sure he's going to be ready for it and he's going to look forward to the opportunity."
He also was quick to defend Rick Nash when a reporter suggested the forward needed to get "going."
"I'm not sure if you followed our series very closely, but Rick has been playing some real good hockey," Vigneault said. "He's competing. He's using his size. He's done some great defensive plays for us. He's been a big part of why we are where we are and why we have a chance to compete for the Cup.
"Throughout the playoffs, he is the one that is on the most positive as far as scoring chances for and against. You got to believe that sooner or later they're going to go in more consistently."
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is set for Saturday at 7: 30 pm EDT on NBC.