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.
2. Puck possession failed them
The Rangers were able to advance to the Final because their even strength play was better than the opposition. This was directly related to puck possession, and it’s why some pundits had the Rangers as a dark horse to come out of the Eastern Conference. After all, only the Bruins had better possession numbers than the Rangers in the regular season. But in the Kings, the Rangers were facing the best possession team in the entire league. It didn’t matter how they did it (speed or physicality), they just overwhelmed the Rangers at times, constantly keeping pressure. It eventually doomed the good guys.
3. Defense failed them
The Rangers were one of the best teams in the league in terms of team defense. Henrik Lundqvist was a big part of that, but so were the combined efforts of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman, Kevin Klein, and John Moore. But against the Kings, very few played consistently. Girardi was an absolute disaster, to the point where he probably deserved to be benched. Moore looked completely outclassed, and Staal was routinely out of position. McDonagh and Klein weren’t tire fires, but they had their gaffes as well. Stralman was the best defender for the Rangers, and that won’t bode well for a team looking to win.
4. Puck luck failed them
The puck never seemed to bounce the Rangers’ way this series. Starting with the Justin Williams winner in Game One, where the puck hopped over Girardi’s stick, and ending with what seemed like 45 goals that went in off Ranger players, the Rangers never seemed to get a bounce. We thought luck was finally turning for the Rangers when that puck was kept out of the net by ice shavings in Game Four, but by then it was too late. A 3-0 lead was insurmountable against the Kings. Which brings us to…
5. The Kings were the better team
There’s no real doubting this one. It’s why most of us wanted Chicago over LA. LA is not only a disastrous matchup for the Rangers, but they are the better team, and it showed. They were able to manage the speed of the Rangers, something none of their Eastern Conference foes could do. But the Rangers only have one speedster with size: Chris Kreider. Each time we saw Jeff Carter blow by Dan Girardi, or Kyle Clifford use his muscle to get position on a defender, we knew the Kings had that dangerous combination of size and speed to go with the incredible talent up and down that roster. Throw in a defense that is on par with the Rangers, and all they needed was for Jonathan Quick to be both good and lucky. He was both, and the Rangers just weren’t good enough."Five reasons why the Rangers lost to the Kings",