Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Register,
The Stanley Cup will be at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, polished, handled by a man in white gloves, ready to be turned over to the Kings for another summer of debauchery. But first, they need to beat the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Final. The Kings lead 3-0 in the best-of-7 series.
“We've got the rest of our lives to see our friends and family, make sure they have tickets and all that,” Kings winger Justin Williams said Tuesday. “You have, usually, one chance – and this is our second chance – to do it, to win a Stanley Cup, to be remembered forever.”
There hasn’t been a Final sweep since 1998. Since then, only one team has even taken a 3-0 series lead. That was the Kings, in 2012, who beat the Devils in overtime twice then shut them out in Game 3.
Here they are again. After comeback, overtimes wins in Games 1 and 2 at home, the Kings beat the Rangers, 3-0, in Game 3 on Monday night and closed in on their second championship in 24 months.
Is it over tonight?
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
These days, it’s all about the “puck-possession game.” It was the Red Wings, coming out of the 2004-05 lockout and the new rules that opened up the game, who pioneered that style.
It is the Los Angeles Kings who may well have perfected it. It is the dominant style of the Western Conference. For proponents of analytics, this style of hockey is superior. If you’re on the plus-side of shot differential over the long term, you should prevail.
They Kings are playing the New York Rangers, a team built on speed, timely scoring and solid goaltending. The Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens, a similarly built team. The Maple Leafs played this style of game, although not nearly as successfully.
There isn’t a flashy name for it yet and there won’t be unless the Rangers win the Cup. For now, let’s call it “Stop and Go” hockey.
GMs across the league will be watching to see what team and what style prevails. And they’ll be sure to copy it, both in the drafting of players, the signing of free agents and the philosophies installed by coaches.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The Rangers have come too far and have accomplished too much for the Stanley Cup finals to end in an ignominious sweep. They have done too much heavy lifting to simply be discarded onto the scrap heap of history and to be remembered — if remembered at all in the grand scheme of things — as a tomato can of an opponent on hockey’s biggest stage.
The Rangers owe themselves better than that. Win or lose, they owe themselves a Game 4 performance at the Garden they will be able to reflect upon with pride. If the Blueshirts are going to go out, at least it should be on their shields.
“I really believe this is going to be our best effort,” Brad Richards told The Post on Wednesday. “We have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.”
They are going to have to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and equally to the point, they are going to have to be able to look each other in the eye when Game 4 is said and done, after which either the Kings will become the second visiting team to raise the Cup on Garden ice — joining the hated 1972 Bruins — or both the Kings and Rangers will be boarding their respective charters to L.A. for Game 5 on Friday.
This can be a cruel, tough, awful game. Pure joy turns to devastation on a hockey rink in the amount of time it takes a puck to hit a defenceman’s skate and ricochet into the top corner.
The one thing that separates the chase for the Stanley Cup from championships in other pro sports is the sheer level of attrition involved in winning it. Teams fall off one by one until eventually you are left with a survivor. The unbridled emotion you see on the ice whenever that beautiful trophy is handed out can largely be attributed to the length of the journey.
-Chris Johnston of Sportsnet on the plight of the New York Rangers. Read more at Sportsnet.
from Michael O'Connell of The Hollywood Reporter,
With no overtime and a decisive early lead for the Los Angeles Kings, Monday's 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers predictably saw the most modest ratings yet for the 2014 Stanley Cup finals.
The first game of the championship series to air on cable net NBC Sports, game three averaged 2.9 million viewers on Monday night. That's down from the first two match-ups in Los Angeles, which pulled in a respective 4.8 and 6.4 million viewers to NBC -- the latter being an all-time game two record.
It's the smallest haul for Stanley Cup finals since game four in 2012. NBCSN, available in roughly 85 million homes, typically brings in fewer viewers than its broadcast sibling.
Alain Vigneault spoke with the media today after practice today...
from Dave Hutchinson of the Star Ledger,
The mood was visibly gloomy as a handful of Rangers went through the paces during an optional skate Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, the reality of a 3-0 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final staring them in the face.
Afterwards, their half-empty locker room had the feel of a funeral. Faces were long. Voices were low.
“Excuse us if today we’re not real cheery, but tomorrow I can tell you we’re going to show up,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
While the Rangers are down, they insist they’re not out. They’ve watched the Kings rally from a 3-0 hole against San Jose and they themselves battled back from a 3-1 disadvantage against Pittsburgh.
added 3:45pm, from Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork,
from CBS New York,
Keenan held nothing back, literally. He was especially incensed by the Rangers’ demeanor in the locker room following the defeat.
“I don’t like the tone at all. I want more resolve, I want them to be more angry, I want more determination. I’m not seeing it. This is the Stanley Cup Final,” Keenan said during MSG’s postgame show, according to SNY.
Keenan, who coached three different teams to the Stanley Cup Final, and made a total of four appearances, said for whatever reason the Rangers have been unable to play the type of ferocious hockey needed to vanquish opponents at this stage of the playoffs.
“If this goalie is on top of his game you need to do something about it. There isn’t anybody in front of the net. I was at ice level and they don’t hate each other yet. You gotta get engaged,” Keenan said. “Maybe it’s inexperience on the part of the Rangers who haven’t been here before with the exception of two players who have won the cup. The other team the entire nucleus has been there. You gotta step your game up.
“I’m talking whistle to whistle and within the whistle being more determined that what I am seeing right now,” Keenan added.
more and you can watch the MSG post-game video below...
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?
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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