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Pressure’s on Richards-St. Louis-Hagelin line to bounce back


After finishing Game 2 with an ugly minus-8 rating, the trio of Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin know things have to improve for tonight’s crucial Stanley Cup Final Game 3 at MSG.

And if they don’t know, head coach Alain Vigneault will remind them.

“I’m sure Brad, with his experience, knows that their whole line needs to be better,” Vigneault said during Monday’s media availability. “If you look at the stats on that night, it obviously wasn’t one of their better nights.”

Aside from St. Louis’ power-play marker (which came on assists from Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider), the unit was largely quiet on Saturday. Richards had an evening to forget, coughing up the puck via an ugly turnover on Jarret Stoll’s early second-period goal while Hagelin, who was so effective in Game 1 by utilizing his speed and skating ability, didn’t match that same effectiveness level and was largely a non-factor, recording just two shots on net.

If the Rangers have any chance of getting back in this series, that’s going to have to change.

The trio has been highly effective throughout New York’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. St. Louis and Hagelin share the team goalscoring lead, with seven, while Richards has 11 points through 22 games and is one of the few Rangers to have won a championship during his career. As such, Vigneault is expecting the entire group to play much better in what amounts to a must-win game in Game 3.

“They’re veteran guys. They’ve been around,” Vigneault said. “They can evaluate their game real well. I’m sure they’re going to have a good bounce-back game tonight.”