One game is in the books in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, as the Los Angeles Kings needed a few extra minutes in overtime to defeat the New York Rangers 3-2.
While the final score was close, the game itself really wasn't. Los Angeles dominated the puck, and had it not been for an outstanding game from Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers would have been pummeled.
ESPN’s John Buccigross noted just how many more shots on goal the Kings had compared to the Rangers:
Needless to say, something has to change for the Rangers in Game 2. Should they go down 2-0 in the series, even bringing it back to Madison Square Garden might not help their chances.
Game 2 will be played Saturday night. Below is a full preview for the matchup.
*Live stream via NBC Live Extra.
|Game 2||June 7 at 7 p.m. ET||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
Will the Rangers Bring Their A-Game?
The Rangers started off hot in Game 1, scoring the first two goals of the game. After that, the offense went stagnant. That prompted head coach Alain Vigneault to complain about the team's overall performance in the postgame presser, via Katie Strang of ESPN:
One thing that's real evident to me, and it should be to our whole group, is we're not going to beat this team if we do not all bring our A-game. ... We had [Henrik Lundqvist] that brought his A-game last night. We had a couple guys. I don't want to name who I think brought their A-game. But our B-game won't do it. We're not going to win if we bring our B-game to the table.
Vigneault is 100 percent correct in the assessment of his team. Well, almost 100 percent—Lundqvist brought his A-plus-game. Without King Henrik in goal, the Rangers might have surrendered double digits.
The defense played decently, getting down on the ice to block shots from time to time, but overall, there's plenty of room for improvement. The defense needs to get better at clearing the puck and mitigating the pressure and congestion near the net. In doing so, there will be far fewer chances for the Kings to score.
Offensively, the passing needs to get much, much better. In Game 1, there were countless situations in which Rangers skaters slashed to the net only to be foiled by a bad pass or a mishandling of the pass.
A lot needs to change in Game 2.
Jonathan Quick vs. Henrik Lundqvist II
Jonathan Quick won the battle in Game 1, as neither of the goals he allowed was actually really his fault. Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports broke down Quick's night:
Quick stopped 25 of 27 shots in the 3-2 overtime win for the Kings. Neither goal was on him: Benoit Pouliot’s nasty shot on a breakaway after a Drew Doughty turnover, followed by Carl Hagelin's bank off the skate of Slava Voynov. The rest of the way, he made several key saves, including one on another Hagelin breakaway in the final minute of regulation.
The save against Hagelin was brilliant, even if Hagelin could have given Quick a more difficult shot to save. Regardless, that save is why the Kings had the chance to win in overtime.
Can Quick repeat that success in Game 2?
Lundqvist was let down—mostly by his defense—in Game 1, as I highlighted above. There was simply too much pressure on him in the third period and in overtime. With less pressure, Lundqvist won't surrender many goals.
This series will become a battle of the goaltenders. The best one will dictate which team wins.
What Will Anze Kopitar Do?
Anze Kopitar has been incredible this postseason, leading the NHL with 24 points in the playoffs. Kopitar has broken out in a big way this past month, even if most around the sport will argue that he's been a superstar for quite some time.
He's a great two-way player and does more for the Kings than just score. He's active defensively and aggressive when moving the puck in transition.
The Rangers need to be prepared for Kopitar to have a big Game 2. Defensively, they'll have to pressure him and not give him an open look at the net. They especially can't let him get too close, as he's skilled enough to push the puck passed Lundqvist.
Kopitar will get going and have a stellar series. It's just a matter of when.