WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes on the Blackhawks throughout their postseason run as well as predictions on the rest of the NHL
After dramatic overtime victories on their home ice in the first two games, the Los Angeles Kings had to feel pretty good about themselves in taking control of the Stanley Cup Finals.
With Games 3 and 4 in New York City this week, the Kings attempted to put an exclamation point on their incredible playoff run. In Game 3 they would display a level of total dominance they had yet to show this series, shutting out the Rangers 3-0 and leaving New York’s attack helpless in front of star goaltender Jonathan Quick, who picked up 32 saves in the shutout. L.A.’s own offensive dominance in this series allowed it to go into Game 4 with 11 goals in total scored by 11 different players, a clear representation of the team’s versatility and talent.
Staring at a potential sweep to end their overall special season, the New York Rangers responded with their best performance of the series in Game 4, led by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopping 41 shots in an exciting 2-1 win, including two key saves with under a minute remaining in the game.
In this series so far, the Kings, as they have through the playoffs, have displayed why they have played the best hockey this playoff season, displaying their tough grit, playing strong defense and not allowing any space for opponents to operate.
With a lack of consistent scoring on the Rangers part, the Kings’ defensive style has been nothing less than a clinic on how to shutdown your opponent. Yes, the Rangers have scored eight total goals in this series, but in order to win this series, New York must force the tempo offensively from start to finish, just as in Game 4 and their stars — like Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin — must step up and contribute to help out Martin St. Louis.
Games 3 and 4 marked the turnaround performances of the Kings goalie Quick, who gave up just two goals while stopping a total of 49 shots. Quick’s performance up to this point has been shaky at best, but as of late he has turned back into the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy-winning player we have come to known him as by making incredible saves and not allowing multiple scoring chances or giving up many rebounds.
The Rangers finally countered the Kings with a strong defensive game in Game 4 but they’ll need a balance on both ends of the ice to keep up with the Kings if they want to make history and win this series after falling behind 3-0. New York is 1-3 in the series when scoring the game’s first goal and have scored a total of five 1st period goals in this series. Here’s a statistic to keep in mind as this series moves along:
Goal Differentials (2014 Playoffs)
Los Angeles Kings — 1st Period: -1
2nd Period: +3
3rd Period: +13
New York Rangers — 1st Period: +14
2nd Period: -6
3rd Period: -2
Goals: Benoit Pouliout (NY) — 2
Points: Justin Williams (LA) — 6
Goals Against Average: Jonathan Quick (LA) — 1.75
A Look Ahead
There has been only one team that has ever comeback from a 0-3 deficit to win the Stanley Cup, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. The major question now is can the New York Rangers become the second team to do so? Using past experience as a guide, there’s no reason to feel they can’t, this is the same team that rallied to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round after trailing 3-1 in that series.
Some have said that this season’s real Stanley Cup Finals were played during the Western Conference Finals between the Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks. So far, I would agree with that sentiment, the Kings have totally outclassed the Rangers and judging by their tough fight to get past the Hawks, you’d figure much of the same would have happened had they advanced.
L.A. is a much more balanced team than a year ago and the Rangers lack the consistent scoring they need to go along with their strong defensive style to keep them in games.
The Kings are still very much in control of this series, despite losing Game 4. Expect a strong fight from the Rangers, but its all done but the singing, the L.A. Kings are going to walk away with this year’s Stanley Cup.
Game 5: at LA Kings, Tonight (7PM, NBC)
Game 6: at NY Rangers, June 16 (7PM, NBC)*
Game 7: at LA Kings, June 18 (7PM, NBC)*
*= If Necessary
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