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.

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", 5 out of 5 based on 14 ratings.
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  1. I was watching the NBA finals last night and two things stuck out.

    First off, no other sport has anything on hockey. From the handshake line to the presentation of the Conn Smythe to the victory lap with the cup. I’ll take watching that, even though the Rangers lost, over that NBA presentation any day.

    Second. Silver congratulated the Heat. Bettman never said a thing about the opposing team when he presented the cup. Doesn’t that happen every year? I know it’s a little thing and I’m sounding like a petty bitter Ranger fan but c’mon Bettman.

    1. I suspect there’s still a bit of bad blood between Bettman and the Garden about Dolan’s comments about the lockout being unnecessary and even further back, the lawsuit about the website.

  2. 7. Power play failed them. When given the opportunity to come up big, they did not convert.

    1. That’s a top 3 reason for me. I thought the PP needed to be good to have a chance. It wasn’t.

        1. It definitely plays into his overall grade, but I think it’s more of an indictment on the players’ failure to execute.

          Scott Arniel is the guy who puts the Rangers PP together and it had a few dimensions, which allowed it to excel during the reg season. I think it converted near 20% over the course of the year, which is very impressive. Unfortunately, it went dry in the playoffs against some of the better teams.

          The coaches gave the players a template to work from which was successful. You can’t solely pin it on Vingeault and Arniel because it stopped working against better teams.

          1. Fair point, and one in which AV deserves to get dinged for. A real problem – and this isn’t a reason not to try someone other than BR on the point – is that the Rangers still lack that prototypical PP QB. Too bad McD isn’t right handed.

          2. I think this is where in-game/mid-series changes needed to be made. AV is the boss. He needs to tell Arniel to change the flavor on the PP. The Zucc line was hot. Let that line be the first PP unit and see what happened.

            All being said, LA was a stronger team that had no quit in them. Kudos to them. The real challenge lies ahead. With limited cap space, and a few departures, can Slats put together a team that is as good or better than this one? All without a first round pick too. We’ll see.

          3. I’m not sure it improves from a conversion standpoint, but it definitely should have been tested.

            Richie was pretty brutal at carrying the puck up ice and establishing in zone possession. Once we got settled in, I thought he looked more natural/comfortable and we had a few good looks.

            But as far as combinations, things absolutely should have been shaken up. When things go stale (especially with special teams…it’s time to tinker with personnel). Who were our 2 best finishers (as far as having a wicked shot)? Brassard and Pouliot, I would say have absolute rockets. Neither were on our first unit. Kreider also has a monster of a shot but wasn’t ever able to unleash it, as he was our net front presence. Not that I disagree with putting him there, just an observation.

            Somebody needs to talk to Stepan about presenting a shot. Whenever he would touch it, it was brutally obvious that all he was looking to do was pass.

            Lol, is this even the real Suit asking me the question… I have a feeling SalMerc may be trying to goat me into disqualifying my previous comments.

          4. Nah – I am still depressed over the loss on Friday night. Everyone here has opinions, but only a few can make the changes.

            The “young-ins” here have to understand that getting into the Cup finals is extremely difficult. That said, once you get there, give 150%. You may not get another chance at it for 20 years. I think, looking at 3 OT losses, no one can say we didn’t play hard. I just do not believe I will see another Cup final for NYR in my lifetime.

    2. 8-The Kings owned the neutral zone all series long and forced the Rangers into a dump n chase game with a 1-2-2 forecheck and a smallish team. They neutralised the NYR speed at the Red line. That’s a recipe for disaster. They also had trouble in 3rd periods because with 1 small forward in deep after the puck on 2 huge King players. Not a prair of any zone time. LA just swatted the Rangers off the puck and went on the attack. NYR are just too small to play that way.

  3. Both Richards and MSL both declined to speak to media on break-up day today. Very interesting. Richards knows what the future holds for him. You wonder how MSL is with the whole situation. Could be a potential problem heading into next year.

  4. TxRanger

    Contrats on your Spurs, at least one blogger on this site has a smile on his face today.

    That Tim Duncan is a class act!!

  5. Just thinking what would it take to get E Kane from Winnipeg and or Stewart from Buffalo. Would nice to get both , would take care toughness and both have speed
    Stewart Step Nash
    Kane Brass Zucc
    Hags Lindberg MSL
    Fast Miller Dorsett
    McD DG
    Staal Stoner
    Klein Moore/Allen
    Stoner is a FA from Minn

    1. I’m not opposed to Evander Kane. I think he’s the type of player the Rangers should be looking to acquire (young, up and coming forwards – not 37 year old Joe Thorntons). He’s that hybrid speed/physical presence that the NHL is seeing more and more of – I see a lot of similarities in his and Kreider’s game (Where is Kreider in your lineup? He’s a staple going forward). Kane’s not a center, but for the right price, I can be convinced of bringing him in. His cap hit of $5.2M (for the next 4 years) is a little high for my liking, but options are limited right now for impact players. He’s only 22.

      Looking at your wishlist lineup, I’d say that Dominic Moore will be back to center the 4th line. He shouldn’t command too much and the fit was perfect. Based on how AV likes to deploy that line, Miller is just not a fit. Let Miller battle for the 3rd line center (or wing) position in camp. We fall into the trap of giving too many spots to young players, let Miller, Lindberg and Fast battle for a spot (or two) in camp.

      Not a Chris Stewart fan. Hasn’t done anything to be a first line player in your lineup. I’ll say it, he’s not good. He’s also going to have to take a pay cut, because $4.1M isn’t even close to what he should be making.

      I don’t know much about Stoner, so I can’t comment on that, but I’m with you that the Stralman is gone, and most likely will not be replaced from within (no one ready at this point).

  6. Not to be critical, Slat’s, I hope you saw what size, speed, and skill can do for you. Kane, or Stewart would be a nice fit, but at what cost?? If anything, Kane would require a bigger return, so we better talk to Buffalo first. Can’t wait until September!!!!!!!!!!

  7. its one thing to play lowsy third period in one or two games. but in 4/5 games? ur simply playing a superior team.

    retool and try again next yr. get a big shot for the pp.

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