The Tampa Bay Lightning have to win at least one game at Madison Square Garden to overcome the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. Heading into Game 5 in New York, Victor Hedman believes his team have to play their best game of the series to stand a chance.
- Victor, you guys have done a great job in 5-on-5 the last few games, maybe starting in the second period game two. Just where did you see the switch, or where did you see the difference in what you've been doing?
VICTOR HEDMAN: Oh, just consistency. Obviously, staying out of the box really helps. And we liked our game 5-and-5 all playoffs. And if we can keep it like that, we like our chances. But it's more about executing what we're doing.
I think the first two games, we're all in agreement that we didn't execute, a little sloppy with the puck. And that's been a lot better. So that usually leads to less turnovers and, obviously, less chances against. So if we keep doing that we're in good shape.
- Heddy, home ice has been such a huge factor in this series. Just, how do you carry on what you've done? And I know you kind of straightened some things out in the second game there at MSG. How do you carry the momentum forward?
VICTOR HEDMAN: No. We've been in this situation before, having to win on the road. And we're proven in previous series and in previous years that we can win on the road. So we take that experience with us. But we're obviously faced with the fact that we've got to win one game up there.
And so for us, we just got to go out there and keep building on what we did at home. It's the same ice surface. Obviously, the crowd is going to be against us this time. But that's the fun games too. You want to go there and obviously try and win the game tomorrow. But it all comes down to our details and what we're doing. So trying to shut out the outside noise and just focus on what we can do, and that's playing good hockey.
- Victor, do you feel like you guys are in a better position to go up there and win a road game than you were maybe going up for one and two because you're back in your rhythm of playing again and playing the way you know you kind of need to play?
VICTOR HEDMAN: Yeah, it's easy to say now, obviously. We lost the first two. And now we're coming off two straight wins. So we've got some more momentum. And we get some games under our belt. But we can't just rely on that. We just got to go out there and execute. That's the bottom line. And we don't look at it any other way.
The first four games are in the rearview mirror. Now we're just going to look forward. And it's the best out of three. And we've got to go out there and win a game.
- Everybody wants home ice in the playoffs. But their record at home is pretty stark, the difference between that and the road. Is there's something unique about that arena, either the feel, the fans, the look, anything about it that makes it a little more challenging to play in?
VICTOR HEDMAN: Well, it's called the most famous arena in the world for a reason, I think. And that goes back to history. And their fan base obviously very, very big. And it's a loud building. But it's a lot of fun too.
And I remember back in 2015, we had to go out there and win a game. And it was game seven back then. But it's a great place to play. And it's a lot of fun. And it amps you up, just knowing you're going to play in that building. So we've just got to use that as motivation for ourselves.
But we're in the Conference Finals. And our sole focus is on trying to win the next game. And it doesn't matter where we play. If we're playing on a pond or outside or at MSG, we want to win the game. So we have to go out there and play our best game of the series.
- You had play with Chernick for a good part of the first part of the playoffs here and back with Ruuta the last couple. How much has that been helpful too, just the familiarity with a guy you've played with the last number of years? And how have you felt about your game personally the last couple?
VICTOR HEDMAN: Oh, a lot better, like the rest of the team, probably. So it doesn't really matter who you play with. But me and Ruuts, we've had good chemistry for a number of years. But it was fun to play with Cherny as well. And probably with the shut-down role that Cherny plays, him and Mack has done a great job in these past two games. And we rely on them heavily, especially, I guess, Zibanejad's line.
And we will wait and see their lineup tomorrow. We know there was a couple of guys that didn't play last game or a guy that got hurt mid-game. So we'll see whatever team they throw out there. But we're not going to have last change, obviously, going up there. So it's going to be a little bit different of a matchup. But we're confident, whoever's on the ice.
But having that familiarity of playing with Ruuts, obviously, it's a walk in the park. We know where we have each other. And we know our strengths. And we know how to read off one another. So we've just got to keep that going tomorrow.
- Your coach mentioned last night that Vasi has his mojo back. Do you guys see that too when you're in the game? Or did you think he ever lost it?
VICTOR HEDMAN: No, I don't think he ever lost it. I think sometimes we rely a little bit too much on him. You look at the first two games was a lot of east-west on and off the sick. It's tough to save those pucks. So Vasi's a competitor. But he's the best goalie in the world for a reason. So we knew he was going to bounce back like the rest of the team. And he showed it in these two games. So it obviously helps tremendously with our confidence when we know we have him back there.