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Category: Playoffs

Five reasons why the Rangers lost to the Kings

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

I hope everyone has had some time to deal with the crushing double overtime loss. I know I needed a full day to move past, especially since the Rangers were in every single game of the Finals. No one will remember that there were five overtime periods in three of the five games. No one will remember that two games went to double overtime. They will remember the 4-1 series win for the Kings, and assume it was a blowout. It’s sad really.

That said, the Rangers’ weaknesses were exploited by the Kings. It was a close series, don’t get me wrong, but the Rangers looked to be overwhelmed at times. There were many reasons why the Blueshirts were unable to come away with a Cup, but five really stuck out. And no, none of them had to do with the officials.

1. Inability to hold a lead

The Rangers frustrated a lot of people this series. They had a 2-0 lead in Game One and lost. They had 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 leads in Game Two and lost. They had a 2-1 lead in Game Five and lost. The Kings never held a lead in the first two games, but managed to win them both. The Rangers, who were 10-0 coming into this series when leading after two periods, simply could not hold their leads. The Rangers spent the entire season winning games when leading after two, but they couldn’t do it against LA.

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SCF Game 5: Send it back to New York

AP Photo/Bruce Bennett, Pool

AP Photo/Bruce Bennett, Pool

The Rangers managed to avoid the sweep on Wednesday night, taking Game Four and sending the series back to LA. Now the goal is to make the series come back to MSG. It’s not an easy task, but the Rangers have been in every single game so far (Game Three is a stretch, but they had their chances). It’s been a close series, so there’s no reason to believe the Rangers can’t take another game.

Daryl Sutter has the Kings playing a system similar to that of John Tortorella’s Rangers. They generally run an aggressive overload 2-1-2 forecheck (forecheckers attack the same side of the ice) and they play a 2-1-2 zone defense off the wall (two guys take the hit zone, one takes the support zone, two have the slot). Once the puck moves up high, depending on the matchup, they’ll attack the blue line or collapse their forwards.  They play a hybrid penalty kill, and a 1-3-1/modified umbrella on the powerplay.

Kevin did a complete preview and breakdown of this series here. Justin looked at Jonathan Quick and some deficiencies in his game here.

Rangers Lines:

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Thoughts heading into Game 5

Bruce Bennet/AP Photo

Bruce Bennet/AP Photo

Good morning, BSB’ers. You’ll have to forgive something of a sleepy “Thoughts” post. I haven’t even had a full cup of Earl Grey yet. The Rangers are back in Los Angeles tonight trying to hold off the fates and send the series back to New York, if only to give the Blueshirt faithful further coronary/anxiety/substance abuse issues. Here are some scattered thoughts on a rainy morning…

  • With all the debate and enthusiasm leading up to this series, it’s kind of a strange limbo we find ourselves in. Obviously, it was nice not to be swept, but I think most realistic fans are disappointed in what seems to be an inevitable result. Yet here we are, still fighting.
  • I feel like this series has just thrown all of our #fancystats and analysis out the window. The first two games, Rangers executed their game plan the best we could have hoped against a strong LA side, yet blew two goals leads and surrendered the games in OT. Yet in Game 4, they mustered a measly 19 shots on goal, got some help from everyone’s go-to guy, Mr. Crease Snow, and managed to win. Go figure.

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Rangers stay alive, force Game Five

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Well the Rangers didn’t get swept. Henrik Lundqvist was the star of the game, stopping 41 LA shots en route to the 2-1 victory, giving the Rangers their first win of the series. Benoit Pouliot and Marty St. Louis contributed all the offense the Rangers would need, as the difference maker –as per usual– was Hank. Jonathan Quick was somewhat human this game, stopping 17 shots.

In a series where puck luck has been the topic of conversation, the Rangers finally got some of their own. Twice during this game, the puck got through Hank and sat on the goal line. The first time, Anton Stralman tied up Jeff Carter’s stick before diving to move the puck. The second time a shot from the point (I believe from Jake Muzzin) got through Hank, and the bad ice stopped the puck from hitting the back of the net before Derek Stepan dove and shoved the puck under Hank.

Luck is luck, and you need some to win hockey games.

On to the goals:

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SCF Game 4: Please don’t get swept

Luck is not on their side (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Luck is not on their side (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I find it rather humorous that we are in this situation, talking about a possible sweep. The Rangers blew a bunch of two-goal leads in the first two games, but both games went to overtime. They lost both, but a bounce here or there, and we are having a different conversation. That’s the way the puck bounces sometimes. But getting swept would end such a great run on a sour note. Please win tonight.

Daryl Sutter has the Kings playing a system similar to that of John Tortorella’s Rangers. They generally run an aggressive overload 2-1-2 forecheck (forecheckers attack the same side of the ice) and they play a 2-1-2 zone defense off the wall (two guys take the hit zone, one takes the support zone, two have the slot). Once the puck moves up high, depending on the matchup, they’ll attack the blue line or collapse their forwards.  They play a hybrid penalty kill, and a 1-3-1/modified umbrella on the powerplay.

Kevin did a complete preview and breakdown of this series here. Justin looked at Jonathan Quick and some deficiencies in his game here.

Rangers Lines:

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Kings on verge of sweep after Game Three shutout

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Jonathan Quick made 32 saves, including a bunch of outstanding saves that left us thinking how he got that, en route to a 3-0 shutout in Game Three. The win gives the Kings a 3-0 series lead, and puts the Rangers in the precarious position of getting swept and watching the Kings lift the Cup in their house. It is not an enviable position.

Lady Luck played a huge role in this game, as the first two Kings goals came off deflections, while the third came off a blocked pass that took a lucky bounce back. Lady Luck seemed to have a crush on Quick as well, as he made a pair of absolutely ridiculous stick saves on Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. That’s not to discount Quick, who legitimately stole this game, but stick saves like those are 10% skill and 90% luck. But he made the saves when they counted.

On Twitter, a lot of people put this game on Henrik Lundqvist, which I just laughed at. Quick has outdueled Hank, that’s for sure, but Quick has had tremendous support from a team that’s playing like they’ve been here before. Hank hasn’t had that support.

On to the goals:

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Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Beating a team that’s never led

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The Rangers have led for all 150+ minutes of this Stanley Cup, but yet find themselves in a 2-0 hole coming home to MSG. They will need to find a way to hold on to two-goal leads, and to find a way to put the Kings away when they do have these leads. This is a must win game.

Daryl Sutter has the Kings playing a system similar to that of John Tortorella’s Rangers. They generally run an aggressive overload 2-1-2 forecheck (forecheckers attack the same side of the ice) and they play a 2-1-2 zone defense off the wall (two guys take the hit zone, one takes the support zone, two have the slot). Once the puck moves up high, depending on the matchup, they’ll attack the blue line or collapse their forwards.  They play a hybrid penalty kill, and a 1-3-1/modified umbrella on the powerplay.

Kevin did a complete preview and breakdown of this series here. Justin looked at Jonathan Quick and some deficiencies in his game here.

Rangers Lines:

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Another OT loss puts Rangers in 2-0 hole

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

For the second straight game, the LA Kings never held a lead, but still managed to win in double overtime, giving them a 2-0 series lead over the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. Dustin Brown deflected a Willie Mitchell shot from the point through Henrik Lundqvist to send the series to New York with a commanding lead. For the Rangers, it as another frustrating loss, as they blew a pair of two-goal leads before the game got to overtime.

I didn’t DVR the game, which makes goal breakdowns difficult when you forget to do the second period goals until overtime, and by that time you can’t rewind anymore. So here’s a quick review, in our favorite format: Bullet points.

  • Let’s start with the officiating, since that’s the elephant in the room. I have no idea how Benoit Pouliot can get whistled for goaltender interference, but Dwight King doesn’t on the exact same kind of play. King scored the third goal for the Kings, sparking their comeback. I’m not big on blaming the officiating for wins and losses, but this one was especially bad. I have no idea how that play isn’t reviewable. We don’t know this yet, but that one single play may have cost the Rangers a Stanley Cup. If it winds up being that situation, then the NHL should be ashamed of itself. “The puck went in before contact was made.” Yea, bull.
  • Then there’s that absurd rule about the puck over the glass. First, I hate the rule, get rid of it. Second, if it’s in the rulebook –which it is– you need to call it. I have no idea what the refs saw, and how they explained that puck hit the glass. It didn’t. That’s a call they need to make, but didn’t want to. Dumb rule for sure, but one that needs to be called because it’s in the rulebook.
  • Now that the officiating is out of the way, let’s be clear: The Rangers lost this game because they couldn’t hold on to a pair of two-goal leads. The officiating didn’t help, and I don’t see how they can see the King goal was a legitimate goal, but the Rangers blew the lead. Period.

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Stanley Cup Final Game Two: The need for a split in LA

Photo: USA Today

Photo: USA Today

Well the series didn’t start the way we had hoped. Jumping out of the gate to a 2-0 lead, the Rangers were eventually overrun by a very physical Kings team, losing in overtime. It was a game the Rangers could have won, but turnovers were costly, leading directly to a pair of Kings goals, including the winner. There is a dire need to win Game Two tonight, as heading home down a pair of games to a great LA team is a daunting task.

Daryl Sutter has the Kings playing a system similar to that of John Tortorella’s Rangers. They generally run an aggressive overload 2-1-2 forecheck (forecheckers attack the same side of the ice) and they play a 2-1-2 zone defense off the wall (two guys take the hit zone, one takes the support zone, two have the slot). Once the puck moves up high, depending on the matchup, they’ll attack the blue line or collapse their forwards.  They play a hybrid penalty kill, and a 1-3-1/modified umbrella on the powerplay.

Kevin did a complete preview and breakdown of this series here. Justin looked atJonathan Quick and some deficiencies in his game here.

Rangers Lines:

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Three Key Rangers that need to be better in game two

The Rangers needs more from Zuccarello, starting tonight.

The Rangers needs more from Zuccarello, starting tonight.

The Rangers enter tonight’s crucial game two trailing the Kings after one and given the Rangers relative poor home form it’s essential they get even in the series tonight. The Rangers could really do with winning tonight’s game two as the pressure would be back on the Kings heading to New York. To do so, several Rangers are going to have to improve on their recent performances. Let’s take a look at three Rangers who could have a huge influence on tonight’s game with improved performances.

Mats Zuccarello

Following a breakout year leading the Rangers offensively and being part of the club’s most consistent line all year long, things have gone stale for the little Norwegian. With no points in his last six playoff games Zuccarello is the definition of cold. For a team with no obvious, go-to offensive producer and for a team reliant on balanced scoring Zuccarello can’t remain so ineffective in game two.

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