The Stanley Cup Finals continue with the New York Rangers trying to understand where thing went wrong for them in the series opener, losing a two goal lead and eventually the game to the Los Angeles Kings, who might be tired but are heading into game 2 with a 1-0 series lead.
While there’s plenty of respect coming from the Rangers to the Kings, they don’t feel like they were greatly outplayed in that opening game. They had a two goal lead and plenty of chances later on to get back into things. Yes, they were out-shot 20 to 3 in the third period, but that was more a result of puck possession and not actually making threatening attempts and Lundqvist’s goal. The Rangers themselves had a brilliant chance at the end of regulation, but Jonathan Quick, who has had an up and down postseason, was there for the save.
The Kings don’t leave a lot of room for mistakes. They aren’t the perfect, all-dominating kind of potential Stanley Cup champions. They seemed a bit more in control two years ago when the franchise won its first NHL title. However, there’s a certain discipline and fighting spirit on this team which means they’re not ever going away, even against two or three goal leads. The Rangers don’t have to be flawless, but they have to be very close to that in order to come away with the win.
Justin Williams continues to show his ability to raise his game to a different level when things matter more, and although Marian Gaborik didn’t score in the previous game he remains the most dangerous pair of skates on the ice. The Rangers aren’t exactly the kind of team that dominates throughout and tries to maintain possession and stat advantage all through the three periods, but the Kings have proven time and time again that you can’t regress or lower your guard against them, as exhausting and taxing as it may sound.
The Rangers tried to do a bit too much of counter attacking and pressing a bit further back. It won’t be surprising to see them trying a different approach, which means pushing the puck deep and trying to get their forecheck going to try and generate offense a little bit differently. Both teams got a bit more rest than they have been used to in this postseason, as it’s easy to forget the Rangers playing only one game less than the Kings, heralded for their three game 7’s.
The Kings, despite their comeback nature, can’t allow this to be a series that is constantly about chasing their opponents. Whoever gets this far knows how to learn from mistakes, and the Rangers, if they keep on with their good starts, aren’t going to be naive and let these leads slip away. Discipline and patient offense is good, but getting off to a bit more flying of a start might be very helpful in the long run instead of chasing the Rangers for the next few games.