Kings vs. Rangers: Game 2
Once again, hockey fans were treated to another overtime thriller last night in game two between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings, with LA being the ones to walk away with the victory to take a 2-0 series lead.
The Kings got their offensive support from the likes of Jarret Stoll, Willie Mitchell, Dwight King, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown for their five goals scored in this game. Brown’s double overtime shot was the one that sealed the victory for LA and secured their victory. The Kings did so many things well and earned their victory, especially using their big bodied guys to screen Lundqvist and block his vision in front of the net. This technique worked against Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks, and did its job again last night, as well. Also, the entire LA team plays an incredibly physical game with their checking, (especially Dustin Brown) and imposed their will upon the smaller forwards of the Rangers. One final aspect of the Kings’ game is that they are able to seal up the neutral zone and force the Rangers to dump the puck into their zone, avoiding passes through the middle of the ice and stopping any opposing offensive drives.
The list of mistakes for Los Angeles is pretty short although, there are some improvements that can be made moving on in the series. Their forwards still got beat in the foot races to the puck by the speed of the Rangers, with one drive by Derek Dorsett out skating Matt Greene and drawing a tripping penalty standing out in my mind.
For the Rangers, their offense was lead by Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis, and Derick Brassard who combined for four goals on the night. The fourth line of Forwards Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, and Dominic Moore really clicked last night for New York and really helped pressure the Kings offensively. However, the real star of the night was Rangers Goaltender “King” Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist made some incredible saves while blinded by the big body screens in front of the net by the Kings. Other key defensive contributions came from Defenseman Dan Girardi, who took some punishing shot blocks to throughout the game to give his team a chance to win.
Compared to LA, the Rangers had more mistakes than good aspects of their play in this game, I’m afraid. First off, they had no answer to the Kings’ point men in their own zone, letting them take free shots basically whenever they wanted. On the inside of the play also, they couldn’t keep Jeff Carter away from Lundqvist in front of the net. Forward Brad Richards was inept in trying to settle and handle pucks that came his way, and gave New York absolutely nothing as their point man on the power play. Key penalties also hurt the Rangers, with guys like Benoit Pouliot (goaltender interference) and Dominic Moore (high-sticking) getting called at in-opportune times and crippling the momentum of the team.
The Rangers also got hurt by a big no-call this game when Lundqvist was interfered with and could not make a key save that allowed LA to tie the game. The basis was that Rangers Defenseman Ryan McDonagh pushed the forward of the Kings into Lundqvist himself and no blame was put on LA for a penalty. Benoit Pouliot was in a similar play earlier where he was wedged between Goaltender Jonathan Quick and a Kings skater and fell that resulted in a goaltender interference being called for a penalty.
With the Kings up 2-0, the series shifts to Madison Square Garden in New York for game 3. Hopefully, the Rangers can find a way to bounce back and avoid being swept in their first Stanley Cup Finals in 20 years. Can they do it? We’ll see…