Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is looking at Friday night’s Game 7 as just another game.
Hours before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the coaches of the two clubs couldn’t have looked at the decisive matchup more differently.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, who entered Friday night with a 5-1 record in Game 7 appearances, said Game 7s have to be treated like any other game.
“I can see how from the outside people could interpret (Game 7 as a bigger game) because there is a lot of hype and it is a do-or-die situation. But I think as an athlete and a coach, you’ve got to focus on staying in the moment and you’ve got to concentrate on the things that you need to do to have success on the ice,” said Vigneault, whose lone Game 7 defeat came with the Canucks in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. “You can’t be disrupted by the noise that’s going on on the outside. You’ve just got to stay within your group, stay within your mind and go out there and execute.”
Tampa’s Jon Cooper, who entered 1-0 with his lone victory in this year’s first round against the Red Wings, respectfully disagreed.
“I don’t think it’s just another game. This is Game 7. You win this game and you’re going to go play for the Stanley Cup. So I’m not going to sit here and hide this from our guys saying, ‘oh, fellas, this is one of 103 or 104 or whatever we’re playing,” Cooper said. “I don’t want to hide behind the cliches of ‘it’s just another game.’ This is an unreal game to be a part of. You sit back and think, guys don’t dream of scoring the winning goal in Game 1. You dream of scoring the winning goal in Game 7 and this is Game 7.”
Lightning forward Brian Boyle, who has played for both coaches, said it’s probably somewhere in between.
“It’s really exciting, but you want to make sure that you don’t get too high or too low…we can get excited, we can get motivated because it’s a Game 7, but then you focus on the things you have to do. The details of the game,” said Boyle, who won two Game 7s with the Rangers last year. “They’re (Cooper and Vigneault) both approaching the game the way they need to approach the game. I think Coop is approaching the game like it’s a great opportunity for us… it’s not just a ‘rah rah, let’s go Game 7,’ we need to focus and make sure we’re prepared.”
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