Kings vs Rangers: Game 4
And if that hook doesn’t get you intrigued, I don’t know what will.
But it’s true, and I am unashamed to admit it. When I get nervous, I sweat. A lot. From a young age, my parents would liken me to Knicks legend Patrick Ewing, because, as anyone who grew up watching Ewing can attest to, he would sweat buckets right from tipoff.
So, yes, since I have a rooting interest in this series, as anyone with the capability to click on the writers tab and read the blurb next to my ugly mug can tell, I was a wreck all game. But the worst was the third period.
Let’s just put aside the fact that the Rangers and two goal leads have not really clicked this series. If Los Angeles managed to put one in the back of the net, I don’t think it’s a question they would have won the game, be it in regulation or in overtime.
And, I remember looking at the shot total pop up beneath the scoreline at the top of the screen about halfway through the period. Kings 6, Rangers 0. Oof.
Truthfully, LA threw everything they had but the proverbial kitchen sink. Odd man rushes, breakaways past woefully slow-moving defensemen, pucks that sit literally on the goal line for a solid two seconds before getting swiped away. The Rangers would get pinned in their own zone after failed clearing attempts. And Rick Nash, who couldn’t catch a break if breaks were a highly contagious plague contracted by being named Rick Nash, missed an empty net by a few inches sending it down the length of the ice.
The final shot total for the third period was 15-1 Kings. Ooooof.
So, what went right for each team? What went wrong? Let’s have a look.
What went right for the Kings- The Kings made Dan Girardi look bad. This is no easy feat mind you, but both he and McDonagh were burned time after time by the likes of Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, and Tanner Pearson. Pearson alone had at least three breakaway chances, and played well enough for the third star of the game, for whatever that is worth. What do Carter, Gaborik, and Pearson all have? Explosive speed. Or is it incendiary? (HYPERLINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb7YjkmtG24) Truthfully, it was simply too easy for the Kings to break out of their own zone, fly through center ice and generate chances on the odd-man rush.
What went wrong for the Kings- This is a bit of a cop-out answer, but the goal line was the biggest thing working against the Kings. Twice, the puck sat on the goal line, and twice, it was swatted away by a Ranger, the first time being Stralman, the second Stepan. Other than a couple of untimely penalties (Willie Mitchell had a rough game in that regard), the Kings didn’t have too much go overtly wrong for them.
What went right for the Rangers- I won’t count Henrik Lundqvist as a singular thing going right for New York, but it is worth nothing that, given the circumstances, Lundqvist had perhaps the biggest game of his career. He stopped 40 shots, 15 in the third. Former Rangers coach Mike Keenan said Lundqvist could “steal every game, he’s that good.” Truthfully, the Rangers were able to come away with the win because they were able to avoid taking bad penalties, all four lines were active, but most importantly, they took command physically. The Rangers played this game like there was no tomorrow, as they should have. They thew hip check along the boards. They crashed the net. When there was a scuffle in front of Lundqvist, they pushed back. In terms of effort or battle level, I don’t think it was too much better than games one or two. It’s just the first time the Blueshirts were able to reap the benefits of it.
What went wrong for the Rangers- There were a couple of alarming flaws in the Rangers game plan. The first issue comes with the aforementioned surrendering of odd-man rushes and breakaways. I do not think Dan Girardi had a terribly good game, nor did John Moore. And no, this is not because Girardi’s broken stick led to Dustin Brown’s breakaway goal, because that’s hockey and those are the breaks, literally. They were pylons as LA’s remarkably fast forwards breezed past them. And a lot of these rushes came because only one defenseman stayed back at the blue line while the other defenseman, often Ryan McDonagh or Kevin Klein, chases the puck deep into the opponent’s zone. There need to be a few adjustments and, when defending a lead, fewer drastic chances taken.
The other noticeable problem comes from Brad Richards. Look, I get what Richards brings to the table, and that for the entire year, they lived and died with him at the point of their powerplay. But it’s gotten to the point where there are too many chances coming from the fact the Rangers only have one defenseman out, and he’s making more and more questionable decisions with the puck. In short, he needs to get his act together, before he plays his way out of New York. Which honestly, I think is inevitable anyway.
Game 5 is Friday at 8 PM EST, at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Who’s ready for more sweat- I mean, hockey?