LOS ANGELES – Two brain cramps, two New York Ranger defensemen looking for redemption. For John Moore and Dan Girardi, Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final will provide a chance to clear the slate and start anew.
For Moore, the dream was put on hold for just a little while. And he’ll finally realize it when he steps on the ice Saturday night for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. Wait, check that. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault never talks about his lineup so he would not guarantee that Moore would play Game 2 after coming back from his two-game suspension in the Eastern Conference final. But it would be a shock to not see him in the lineup and for Raphael Diaz not to come out.
For Moore, probably the biggest concern will be keeping him from feeling he needs to do too much. He said he felt he let his team down when he took the suspension for his blindside hit to the head of Dale Weise of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6. His teammates have been supportive and he has tried to keep everything in a proper perspective.
“It stinks when you’re not out there and you’re not playing, but you’re also lucky,” Moore said. “There are 28 other teams who would love to be bag-skating and getting ready.”
Moore took regular turns in practice on Friday with defense partner Kevin Klein, leading to speculation he will play in Game 2. If that’s the case, it would give the Rangers even more speed from the back end, since he is one of the fastest and smoothest-skating defensemen in the league. The Rangers gave the Kings fits with their speed for two periods in Game 1 and having another fleet-of-foot player back there would give them more of an advantage in that department to exploit.
“How he’s going to respond after being suspended, that question goes to him,” Vigneault said. “I think he’ll be fine. He’s given us some real important minutes this year and I think he’ll be fine.”
Teammate Brad Richards was one of the many Rangers to offer their support to Moore after the suspension. Neither Girardi nor Moore took his setback without some sense or regret and both are eager to make amends to their teammates. “John, he’s a very good person,” Richards said. “Not that other guys aren’t, but he’s the type of guy that would affect, being suspended. But it’s over with, he’s excited now that the suspension is over.”
Girardi had two days to reflect on the bouncing puck and giveaway that led directly to the Kings overtime goal in Game 1. It’s probably a day more than he’d like, but as a veteran he knows his ability to park that play will determine how he responds in Game 2.
“When you make a play like that that costs the game, you’re going to feel no lower than I’ve ever felt before, to tell you truth,” Girardi said. “But the guys did a great job of rallying around me (Thursday) in the media. It was one play and it cost us, but for the most part a pretty solid game. Today’s a new day in sunny California and we have a chance to win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final.”