Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tim Wharnsby of CBC,
If you were pulling for Martin St. Louis and the New York Rangers to jump back into the Stanley Cup final on Monday evening you may have come down with a case of the what ifs.
- What if, in the Rangers' 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden to fall behind 3-0 in the championship series, New York right wing Mats Zuccarello buried that chance from close range in the first period? Instead, his shot hit the post and then the stick of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and stayed out.
- What if Los Angeles sniper Jeff Carter doesn't score a goal on a deflection off the left skate of sliding Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi after a brilliant setup from teammate Justin Williams with 0.8 seconds left on the score clock in the first period?
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
You almost have to feel bad for Henrik Lundqvist, don’t you? The Man Who Has Everything has nothing to show through the first three games of this Stanley Cup Final series.
No luck. No help. No wins.
Well, nothing is not entirely accurate, of course. The embattled Rangers ‘keeper does have one thing:
Lundqvist was on the hook for three goals on just 15 shots in New York’s 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. But who could blame him, right? The first might have deflected off the skate of defenseman Dan Girardi about 20 feet out and changed direction slightly. The second was redirected by another well-meaning block attempt by Martin St. Louis. The third was created when the puck bounced off the skate of Ryan McDonagh directly onto the tape of L.A.’s Mike Richards.
In fact, that’s pretty much been the story of the series for Lundqvist.
The first stick save by Quick was on Mats Zuccarello with the score at 0-0...
And with the Rangers down 0-2, Quick stops Derick Brassard with another great stick save...
First up is Alain Vigneault...
Followed by Darryl Sutter below...
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Quick and the Kings reached back to their 2012 playbook for a dominant performance that moved them within one victory of their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. His 32-save gem in the 3-0 victory that gave the Kings a 3-0 series lead over the Rangers was vintage Quick, a throwback to the acrobatics and forbidding focus that won him postseason MVP honors two years ago.
"He was obviously the best player on the ice tonight," Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said.
Quick himself was typically laconic and unemotional, saying that playing near where he grew up and in front of his parents and wife didn't mean anything special to him.
"It was a playoff hockey game. We were trying to win a hockey game," he said. "We did a lot of things the right way. We were able to do that, so. . . now we get ready for the next one. The fourth one is always the most difficult, so . . ."
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
In hockey, you tell yourself you earn it, and most of the time you do. You fight for pucks, you fight for position, you skate until your legs fill with water. You take sticks to the face, to the back, to the legs, to the gut. Your knees crumple, your shoulder pop, your ribs break, you bleed. You hold onto the puck, play smart, play hard, play well. You take painkillers, you play. You fight for this. It’s the only way.
And then a puck bounces one direction and not another, and none of it matters. The New York Rangers flew all the way across the country and left their margin for error in Los Angeles, and they couldn’t afford to get unlucky. They were unlucky in Game 2, too, just enough, and that meant they had to have Game 3. They lost to the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0. They trail in the series, 3-0. They might deserve better, but like Clint Eastwood once growled, deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.
“At some point you’re going to need some puck luck, and we don’t have any right now,” said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, after the Rangers outshot L.A. 32-15, and lost. “It feels like they have all of it. We always talk about how you have to earn that puck luck, but I think we are working really hard and doing a lot of good things, but when they score goals like that . . .
“It doesn’t matter what you think you deserve out there. You just have to find ways to win games, and that’s what they have been doing. We can sit here and say we’ve played really well, but at the end, it's about finding ways to win, and we haven’t done that.
If you missed it last night.
We come from the land of the ice and snow...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
On this night, the Blueshirts did look like interlopers, muted as the crowd most of the night, never able to impose their will on the Kings, never able to get their game going for any sustained stretch.
It is axiomatic that defense wins championships regardless of the sport. But teams like, say, the 2003 Devils don’t make it through the Stanley Cup playoffs anymore. You have to be able to score these days in the evolving NHL.
The Rangers have averaged 2.61 goals per in the tournament, eighth among the 16 qualifiers, fourth among teams that were able to win at least one round.
The Kings, meanwhile, the team that won the 2012 Cup as lockdown kings, they are the highest-scoring club in the playoffs averaging 3.5 goals per through 24 matches.
It is the Kings who have the tournament’s leading goal-scorer, a fellow by the name of Marian Gaborik, who returned to the Garden with 13 goals, including the third-period tying goal in LA’s 5-4 Game 2 victory.
The Stanley Cup Final returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time in 20 years tonight. The puck will drop just after 8:00pm ET and is on NBCSN, CBC and RDS.
You have to favor the New York Rangers tonight. They know a loss to the Los Angeles Kings will leave them one game away from a series sweep.
Expect the Rangers to come out strong and use their speed to defeat the Kings tonight.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
It could be Henrik Lundqvist. The all-world goalie has been fine to this point, but he hasn’t given his team that one critical stop that Jonathan Quick has provided at the other end of the ice. (Brad Richards is still wondering how he didn’t score on that in-close chance in the third period on Saturday.)
It could be Rick Nash, who peppered Quick with eight shots in Game 2 with hands that are stonier right now than Ben Grimm’s. Or maybe it’ll be Richards, coming off a game marred by giveaways and defensive gaffes as well as blown chances.
But the man who really needs to step it up is Ryan McDonagh.
This postseason has been a coming-out party for the 24-year-old, and he’s used this run to establish himself as one of the top-10 defenders in the league. He’s been bold and decisive and dangerous in all three zones, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals when he rang up 10 points that crushed the Cup dreams of the Canadiens.
A legitimate Conn Smythe candidate? You bet.
At least until the Cup final started.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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