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.
- Just because the Kings haven’t led in this series does not mean the Rangers are dominating each game. If you’ve been watching, Henrik Lundqvist has really bailed them out of a lot of tough situations. That’s not domination. The Kings have held the overall puck possession advantage in all situations by a fairly large margin.
- Speaking of puck possession, the Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash line did everything except score that game. They were a solid line that the Kings had trouble controlling all game. Meanwhile, the Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Martin St. Louis line did not have a strong game. Richards was especially awful.
- The six defensemen had some nice rebound games, there were no glaring defensive breakdowns that made me facepalm throughout the game. One thing does concern me: At what point do the Rangers realize Dan Girardi may not have the footspeed to be a top pairing defenseman? I hope it’s soon.
- Speaking of Girardi, it’s amazing how partnering with Ryan McDonagh helps him. Look at McDonagh’s numbers without Girardi as a partner. His CF% goes up 7% without Girardi as his partner. That’s absurd. I’m not saying Girardi is bad, don’t misunderstand me there, but he’s miscast as a partner with McDonagh. I’d love to see how McDonagh and Anton Stralman –puck possession machine– do together. Stralman is so calm and collected with the puck, it’s nice to watch. I don’t know if he’d have the same defensive success against the matchups McDonagh gets, but the two of them together would be a puck possession force.
- Of course, McDonagh isn’t without blame here, he allowed Brown to get inside position on him for the winner. That can’t happen in overtime.
- One final point: If it weren’t for the Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett line, the Rangers would never have made it this far.
The Rangers now need to win both games at MSG next week to make this a series. A split in LA was preferable, and the Rangers held the lead for all 155 minutes and 2 seconds that the Cup Final has lasted so far. I guess that’s a positive to take from this, if there is one.