Game Wrap-upsPlayoffs

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.

  • 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.

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  • No one goes into the crease without being an accident waiting to happen. What is that, a place of refuge, from the D? Sure that goal shouldn’t have counted and Blackhawk fans are saying goals by Hossa and Saad were called off on similar plays. That being said I think Rangers are still alive but AV is going to have to juggle. It could be the Richards line needs someone with size meaning Nash and then St. Louis moves alongside Stepan. But he’s the coach. I expect Carcillo to be back in with fresh legs and a bone to pick as he had with Philly.

    • Bud. I couldn’t have said it any better. I agree there needs to be a couple subtle lineup changes. Sutter has a Torts like phylosophy in his line combinations. AV should do the same thing with last change at home. Both games are must wins. A split would not be good enough since they’ve dominated at home all year long. The playoffs too, they’ve been so great at home I’m gonna watch with my hand on my face. Peaking through my fingers at times.
      Nash has played well in all 3 zones. MSL has been more of a top line scorer. I’d switch them for sure. Nash is a better defensive player. He’s good with the puck and he Might help Richards out. A big game from those 2 would be important, especially Richards. His line was a combined -8 And I personally think AV should move Nash with Richards. Double shift Nash or Kreider with the 4th line. They’d get the 3rd defense pair and 3 of the Kings bottom 6 forwards. He needs a few goals to get him going. If it would happen in one game it’d be a boom for the entire team.
      AV needs to either continue to play Rangers hockey in the 3rd period. The Rangers seem to sit back with a lead and allow LA to carry the puck right to the blue line without any resistance. How do you use your speed on turnovers if everyone is in front of the puck? Either keep playing aggressively in his 1-2-2 or try a trap with the 1-3-1. Why not? All your doing is moving a defenseman up to Center ice. The gaps are tighter and it’ll create turnovers while playing conservitive with a lead in the 3rd.
      The Rangers should never lose a game when up 4-2 in the 3rd. They were 10-0 until last night in that situation. A novel on my opinion. I hope you like it.

  • The refs did a piss poor job, but still we had a 1 goal lead, and couldn’t protect it again. The non call on the third goal was the back breaker, and it got in Hank’s head. The rest of the team looked timid, just not right. The turn over was also a by product of trying to protect the 2 goal lead, I hate that, the best defense is an offense, and we just blew the game. I blame AV for going into the prevent in the 3rd, and then the turn over, what a effing waste of time that prevent is!

    We out played the Kings, should have won, but shoulda, coulda, woulda, means squat at the end of the day when you come up short on the scoreboard. All season long I have asked for some grit, and now when we need it the most, well you see with your own eyes what a big, physical team can do. In time, our boys will get worn out from their style of play!!!

  • Hockey is a great sport but the NHL always has, an apparently always will be, a Mickey Mouse league with perhaps the worst officiating if all the major sports. I mean these guys make the 400-lb, I’ll make up my own strike zone baseball umpires of 30 years ago look good. The non-call on the third Kings’ goal could very well cost the Rangers the Cup and that just cannot happen. And, to be objective, that interference all that Nash drew was just embarrassing (for the officials). He might as well have grabbed the guys stick and tripped himself.

    That said, the Rangers can’t escape blame. They coughed up the puck in their own zone on the tying goal and had three guys standing around playing with their dicks instead of tying up Gaborik. As you said, Richards was awful (can’t be bought out soon enough). He makes me sick on the PP when he can’t win face offs, can’t hold the puck on the point, wastes too much time moving the puck out of his own zone, etc. And he’s really no better at even strength. I’d scratch him for the rest of the series and play JT Miller myself.

    You can’t cough up two two-goal leads in a Cup final game. They came out soft in the 3rd period instead of playing the way they did in the first two periods or the first OT period. The bad LA ice (worse than even MSG!) caused some of the turnovers but in the end guys like Girardi and McDonagh need to take better care of the puck.

    Let’s win the next two and make a series out of it.

  • Non call on 3rd kings goal was brutal, pitiful, shameful and inexcusable.

    McDonagh have them their 4th goal. Not sure why he tried that move inside, which have them the puck right on our slot. They got a shot, a rebound and a goal. The play was there for McDonagh to move it up the boards as we had an open winger.

    And just like that we go from 4-2 to 4-4. The 3rd 2 goal lead we’ve given up in 2 games.

  • It would be nice if Goalie interference calls could be reviewable – there is almost always a question of whether the offender gets pushed by an opponent or not.

    But if a goal is scored – There should be a mandatory review with the option of overturning the goal and calling the penalty – they have been getting them wrong all playoffs long – this one hurt badly

    • To your point, during the season doesn’t Toronto review all goals?? That said, why wasn’t that called a non-goal?? Also, in the OT where Martinez sent the puck over the glass, without it being defected, why wasn’t that called? Could it be that the entire play-offs, the Rangers have played 5vs9, with the officals always making calls against us. We over came that in three rounds, but can we again?? Not sure!!!!!!!

      • I believe they do review all goals but they cannot overturn them for Goalie interference – That should change

  • Took me hours to fall asleep last night, that’s how upset and angry I was about last night’s loss. And to think I study Spinoza! Everything he says about the problem with hope and fear in the ETHICS resonates very strongly with me right now.

    What kills me about the terrible non-call on the 3rd Kings goal is how little public accountability there is. In the NFL, crappy though the officiating may be at times, the league will also on occasion state post facto that a mistake was made, as in the GIants’ collapse against the Niners 12 years ago. And the idea that Keith Jones called that a good non call! Are you kidding me? Honestly, if O’Halloran and Macauley had to give an interview after the game where one of them said, yeah, looking back on it, that was goalie interference. Feel bad about missing it–obviously, the sting would still be there, but it would be somewhat alleviated by the acknowledgment of error.

    That said, the Rangers–valiant as they were–would be well-advised to stop commenting on the goal and to move on immediately. They still had a one-goal lead at the time. When the Kings got their 2nd goal on a PP caused by a complete embellishment by Dustin Brown (who, at this time of year, looks more ogre-like than any hockey player out there), they responded as rapidly as a team possibly can–11 seconds later. McD was, for the most part, outstanding last night, and considering the number of minutes he logged, it’s hard to fault him for losing position on Brown in the 2nd OT. But on a few occasions in this series the Rangers have been burned by going for a stickhandling move or pass of greater difficulty when the right play is to get it out of the zone–even if it means icing the puck. And that was definitely one of them. No, last night’s 3rd period wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Wednesday’s, but the Rangers have to ask themselves why this is the one period they’re being consistently outplayed.

    Now, to the the subject that was bugging me all night, as my wife and son can well attest–Brad Richards. What an awful, awful performance in the biggest of spots. I predicted that if the Kings scored the winner in OT, it would be the Richards’ line on for it, and lo and behold. St Louis certainly wasn’t great defensively, but IMO Richards singlehandedly dragged down that line, not to mention the PP. He looked old, slow, and clueless.

    AV is in a tough spot. Obviously, he can’t bench Richards. But there still have to be adjustments. It’s unacceptable to keep trotting him out there for the PP when he not only offers you nothing–zilch–from the point, but is unable to avoid turning it over. This is a huge problem for the Rangers that they will have to try, somehow, to address in the offseason–the lack of someone good opposite McD on the point on the PP. But you have to try something. Moreover, you have to mix up the lines so Richards is surrounded by two defensively strong players. If it means less possibility of offense, you take that. I have to say, I was really disappointed that AV wasn’t more active in this respect last night. There need to be adjustments.

    Defensively, I thought the top four were, for the most part, very solid last night. Girardi had another bad TO at one point–I can’t recall exactly when, but it was early–but they didn’t cash in. I thought Stralman had one of his best games of the entire playoffs. John Moore started out pretty well, and the superiority of his skating ability to Diaz’s really shone through. But over the course of the game he became sloppier and sloppier, and I began to wonder if he was cracking under the pressure. There were times it seemed like he didn’t want to be the one to take the puck through the zone or make the outlet pass–like he had a bad outcome in his mind and that was messing with his head. Who knows?

    I’m not giving up hope yet. Obviously, this creates a situation where Game 3 is an absolute must win. The Rangers will not reel off four straight against this team. Even 3-1 (winning the third, losing the fourth) would probably be too tall a task. On one hand, the Rangers can say that they’ve been right there toe to toe and can absolutely beat this team. But the Kings can say, we’ve played very up-and-down, sloppy hockey–nowhere near our best–and we’re still up 2-0. Having home-ice advantage is obviously a good thing–but it puts a lot of pressure on the home team to hold serve. The Kings have done that, and it could be they’ll be much sharper when they get on the road. We’ll see. Would be a shame to lose Game 3 and not have this be a series when it so much could have beeen. That’s hockey.

    • My earlier post I said the guys looked timid, maybe I should have said afraid, but your right!!

      That said, we had leads that we couldn’t hold, and that trend has got to end if we stand any chance of winning this series!!!!!

  • Generally agree with you, but I didn’t see the puck possession advantage. NBC tracks scoring chances and they ran about even last night. In truth, the goaltending has been pretty even this series. Merely holding his own against Jonathan Quick is not a knock on Lundqvist.

    What has been disappointing about Nash is that he isn’t coming close to scoring goals. Tokarski and Quick have regularly been robbing MSL and Zuke. It’s been a while since Nash has had a shot that resulted in any more than a routine save. Otherwise, he’s been great -sort of Dominic Moore without the goals and face-offs.

    Amazingly, the Kings have no answer for the fourth line. OTOH, last night I cringed whenever Brad Richards was in his defensive zone.

  • The Nash penalty was embellishment for sure, but he was interfered with and there was not going to be any call. Why? He was not the last to touch the puck. I saw Gaborik hook Staal and no penalty either.

    That being said, especially in the Playoffs, you MUST be 100% sure of the play you are doing. You need to almost perfect in your decision making. I see the same bonehead moves, especially by our acting Captain Giveaway.

    WTF is he doing quarterbacking the PP. Is he the absolute best you can bring to the table? He is a defensive liability and we will get scored on shorthanded, I guarantee it.

    Kreider needs to up his game physically. I hardly hear Staal’s name get mentioned at all. He is not joining the rush as much.

    What is wrong with Talbot and why the secrecy?

    For a goalie who stays deep in his crease, what was The King doing deflecting shots past Klein?

    Stephan played his first came back great, scored two goals, but since then has looked slow and horrible.

    Stralman is the only Ranger who is delivering punishing checks on the whole team.

    If you are gonna call goalie interference, then at least be consistent about it. The puck over the glass non-call is further evidence why hockey will never be taken seriously. Four idiots all got it wrong or were too stupid to admit their mistake.

    The officials are getting in the way. I saw a linesman actually pick one of our defensemen. They either stay along the boards and the puck hits them and goes in the wrong direction, or they are behind the goal and impeded our play.

    Get them some James Bond jetpacks and let them hover over the ice.

    That being said, the Rangers are obviously playing scared and it has shown. They have not played a 60 minute game in the regular sense and it has cost them two games, period. They are playing cocky hockey and they’ve been burnt twice.

  • The referees missed the point on the disputed goal. King was standing in the crease unmolested blocking Hank’s view of the developing play. I think he was still in the crease when the shot was taken, he was just exiting. While in the crease, he hit Lundqvist with his stick.

    I believe the play was reviewable; Brett Hull’s goal against Buffalo certainly was. I agree that the greater contact after the shot after McD pushed King was not reviewable.

    In general, goalie interference should be reviewable. In the games I’ve seen, the call is wrong maybe one-third of the time.

    • In the refs’ mind, they didn’t miss anything. They will make the same call next time and the time after; And then make up some lame excuse to justify it. And that’s the problem with this so-call League. You have some of the most talented and skilled athletes in the world, being supervised by some of the most incompetent officials in any sport worlwide. This has been going on for years, and it will never stop. Why would you expect anything different. If the whole idea of the League is to make the right call, then there has to be some sort of over-rule by the so-called “officials” in Toronto. Now if what was stated earlier is true, and every goal is reviewed by Toronto; the fact that they let the goal stand is even more troubling. Just the blind leading the blind(or incompetent); nothing new here!

  • We have team wins, this was a team loss. Only players getting a reprieve are the 4th line and Lundqvuist. Is our third line the primary scoring line threat? Looks like it based on results. Mr Nash you are in the cup finals…get Nasty…will it…like how Stoll wills face off wins. The win has happened before the puck drop.
    Richards, how can you make an errand pass and then float just to watch a goal scored against you? Wow that was pathetic.
    McDonagh Girardi are either spot on or brutal…in this series they have been both in the same game. McDonagh was brutal yesterday. He is near being elite, however he needs more seasoning to be considered elite.
    This gentlemen is not the “A” game coach AV is asking for. Now get your you know what into gear and win this thing. LA Kings are beatable only if you do not fear their come back.

  • Is it me, or does Richards commit at least one brutal giveaway every game? I’m looking forward to him being an ex-Ranger next season.

  • If you want to go back to the two worst officiated plays by the same person in the same game in the same minute, go back to Linesman Kevin Collins who called icing not once but twice in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

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