The Los Angeles Kings supposedly learned back in 2012 that if you do not eliminate a team when you have the chance, they can quickly get back into the series, as the Devils did when they won two in a row before the Kings finally finished them off in Game 6. In case the Kings forgot, rallying from a 3-0 deficit against the San Jose Sharks in round one of this year’s playoffs, as well as their difficulty in eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks should have served as a reminder. While last night’s loss to the New York Rangers should not have the Kings in panic mode just yet, the Rangers are one victory away from making last night’s win into the start of a legitimate come back.
- Henrik Is Still King No Rangers player has taken more flak through the first three games of this Stanley Cup Final than Henrik Lundqvist. In those games, Lundqvist had a .892 SV% and a 3.13 GAA, uncharacteristically mediocre stats for the star goaltender. Facing elimination, the Henrik Lundqvist that has backstopped the New York Rangers to the cup final, finally made an appearance. Lundqvist made 40 saves and once against proved he is the Rangers most valuable asset when facing elimination.
- Puck Luck There was a lot of discussion about the Rangers lack of “puck luck” after Game 3. Maybe the hockey gods finally answered Lundqvist’s prayers, as the Kings came within inches of scoring twice, only to have the puck stop perfectly on the goal line. Anton Stralman was able to clear the puck off the line in the first period and Derek Stepan used his hand late in the third. Stepan had to avoid placing his hand over the puck, otherwise the Kings would get a penalty shot.
- Not Time For Panic Mode We have not seen a team sweep a Stanley Cup Final since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. For the Kings to complete their sweep of the New York Rangers would be an enormous accomplishment in today’s NHL. This year’s playoffs have shown that no team is truly out of it, even when facing the seemingly insurmountable odds of a 3-0 deficit. At the same time, the Rangers slipped by the Kings in Game 4. New York managed one shot on goal in a third period that was dominated by the Los Angeles Kings. If Los Angeles had played the first two periods like they did in the third, it is likely we would have seen the Stanley Cup last night.