Brad Richards sat on one side of the Rangers’ locker room Saturday in Greenburgh, looking miserable, tenser than the E string on a violin. Richards was doing his best, trying to be cooperative with inquiring reporters, but his answers were clipped, and the interrogation process was uncomfortable all around for this fraught player.
On the other side of the room, Henrik Lundqvist lounged restfully and chatted with writers. It was impossible to tell from his posture that Lundqvist was facing an elimination Game 6 on Sunday afternoon against the Caps at the Garden, and that all the weight of the franchise was resting on his glove hand.
Is it really this simple? Are the successful players always the ones who welcome pressure with an easy shrug?
“Enjoy the game,” Lundqvist said. “That’s when you play the best. The difference between losing and winning right now is really small. You can’t get too low.”
Lundqvist ought to give this Zen pep talk to Richards right about now, and maybe to Rick Nash. The two high-paid forwards are feeling all the pressure of New York, because they aren’t scoring at all just when they need to be scoring the most. John Tortorella wouldn’t talk about that, said he won’t discuss guys “who are fightin’ it,” but their struggles are out there for everyone to see.
It isn’t just Lundqvist and Richards. Nobody can score at the Verizon Center. There is no rational explanation for the Rangers’ stubborn failures in Washington, where they are now averaging .667 goals in three playoff games. You can see they aren’t applying pressure in the Caps’ zone, yet that is more of a symptom than an answer. They haven’t been taking stupid penalties, though they were punished on Friday with a Washington power-play goal when Brian Boyle was finally whistled for slashing in the second period.