Game Thread

Game 72: Deliver crushing blow to Kings playoff hopes

The Los Angeles Kings are in town tonight to take on our New York Rangers in what is being billed as a rematch from last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. In short, it’s not, but the Rangers can deal a critical blow to the defending champs hopes this season. The Kings are four points out of the wild card (Winnipeg), but just two back of Calgary for the third spot in the Pacific. LA doesn’t own the tiebreaker, but have a game in hand on the Flames. A regulation win deals a big blow to their hopes.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are fresh off a complete dismantling of the Ducks on Sunday night. With their offense awakened, they will look to continue their scoring ways against a relatively average Jonathan Quick (.916 SV%). Quick has a habit of relying too much on his athleticism, depending on the sprawling save when centering himself is more efficient. If the Rangers can get him moving, he may fall into that trap again.

What have they done lately?

The Kings are actually on a nice little run, going 6-2-2 in their last ten. As mentioned above, that streak has them right in the thick of things, but still on the outside looking in. That said, the Kings are usually a team that squeaks into the playoffs then goes on a run. That’s not luck, that’s a product of a team that always has solid possession numbers.

The Kings have been dealing with some injuries of late, notably to Tanner Pearson and Jarrett Stoll, and have also been without Mike Richards (AHL) for a while. They were never going to continue to roll as a 60% possession team, but they are still among the league’s best again.

rangers kings 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Another reason why the Kings continually squeak into the playoffs then go on runs is that their SPSV%/PDO usually corrects itself just in time for the playoffs.They had a pretty rough stretch for most of the season, but have seen that number get back to league average of late. A Kings team that is steadily moving up in this area is always dangerous.

rangers kings 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Since goaltending is the primary driver in SPSV%/PDO, we can look at Quick’s recent stretch of games to get a better gauge as to why LA’s SPSV%/PDO is rising. Quick had a brutal stretch in the beginning of the year, dropping to a sub-.900 SV% goalie for a while. He’s been getting his game back, and the addition of Andrej Sekera to the blue line has certainly helped.

rangers kings 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

The Kings, like the Rangers have seen a monumental drop in SH% in the month of March. The Rangers broke through on Sunday against the Ducks, and the Kings are still waiting for that breakthrough to stop the fall.

rangers kings 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

These are two somewhat similar teams, which is why the games between them are usually exciting. The entire Western Conference –and let’s be honest, most of the Eastern Conference– is rooting for the Rangers tonight. No one wants to see the Kings make the playoffs. Help dig that hole a little deeper.

Kings Systems

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.

Kings Lines

Marian Gaborik-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford-Mike Richards-Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan-Nick Shore-Dustin Brown

Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr-Andrej Sekera
Alec Martinez-Matt Greene

PP1: Gaborik-Kopitar-Carter-Sekera-Doughty
PP2: Brown-Toffoli-Williams-Muzzin-Martinez

PK: Kopitar, Brown, Toffoli, Carter, Lewis, King, Doughty, Regehr, Greene, Muzzin, Sekera

Quick gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Chris KreiderDerek StepanRick Nash
Mats ZuccarelloDerick BrassardJ.T. Miller
Carl HagelinKevin HayesJesper Fast
Tanner GlassDominic MooreJames Sheppard

Marc StaalRyan McDonagh
Keith YandleDan Girardi
Matt HunwickDan Boyle

PP1: Stepan, Brassard, Kreider, Nash, Yandle
PP2: Miller, Hayes, Zuccarello, Boyle, McDonagh

PK: Stepan, Nash, Girardi, Staal, Moore, Fast, Hunwick, Boyle, Hagelin, Yandle, McDonagh,

Cam Talbot is in net.

Scratches/Injuries: Henrik Lundqvist (throat), Kevin Klein (arm), Martin St. Louis (knee)

Crazy Prediction: The Rangers light up Quick for five goals in the first 30 minutes.

Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 7pm on MSG/NBCSN.

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  • Too much stick checking in the first. You have to get physical with LA or they’ll run over you. The D need to clean up their own end. They’re handling the puck like a grenade! Great play by Miller. Looks like AV will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup anymore. I think he’s arrived!

    • It’s not LA’s physicality. It’s their NZ play. They get in skating lanes and force the Rangers to dump and chase instead of using their speed to gain the zone. It’s solid defense.

  • Why not rotate each game resting one fwd and one dman each game over the next three weeks to give some players a rest before the playoffs. Long season and a tough stretch to finish the season. I know it won’t happen, but i don’t understand why.

  • Supermaz Agree all the way . They look tired tonight and not skating , i know LAK are a good team but they played last night and we should have jumped on them from the start . Iknow we scored quick but we stopped skating and looked tired . No body played a good game tonight . Talbot misplayed the puck a couple of times an it was in the net . But you can’t fault him for the loss . Just one of those games you are going too lose once in a while . We are still in good shape . But we should try and bring up Lindberg an dgive a forward off on some of the B_Bs they need the rest . See how the King looks when he comes back this weekend . What is it with TG getting so much ice time last 2 games .Have the Rangers ever had a forward go thru a season with out scoring a goal . Can’t ever remember one that played this many games and still didn’t put one in the net even by mistake . Oh well lets see what we can in Ottawa and Boston to mess up the wild card race . Lets just beat them both and let them decide it

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