New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings: Biggest Takeaways from Game 2
It looks like we are two games into an instant Stanley Cup Final classic series starring the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers.
It has been billed as a David vs. Goliath battle, but it's been difficult to tell which team is which after two games.
Following Saturday night's 5-4 double-overtime victory, the Kings have a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Rangers have been the better team for large stretches in the first two games. Unsurprisingly, the Kings have flourished when down and have made stirring comebacks from two goals down in both games.
Willie Mitchell had a strong game for the Kings in registering two points, including an assist on the winning goal by captain Dustin Brown.
Let's take a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 2.
Anze Kopitar Is the Most Complete Player in the Series
Anze Kopitar is the best all-around player left in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Quite simply, there is nothing he cannot do.
Kopitar dominates physically, wins faceoffs, blocks shots, has soft hands, plays hard in all three zones and leads his team every night. He's also leading the playoff scoring race for good measure.
For my money, Jonathan Toews is the only player who can be mentioned in the same breath as Kopitar in terms of having such a complete game in 2014.
He was all over the ice in Game 2, and the Kings are very lucky to have this Slovenian superstar.
He had an assist on the game-winning goal—this should be surprising to no one given his talents.
The Rangers Are Ignoring the Pundits
The New York Rangers obviously aren't getting the message that the Kings are the bigger, stronger and better team.
The Kings have not led at any point in the series, yet they are unbeaten after the first two games.
It is clear that the Rangers believe they can win this series. They are not intimidated by the Western Conference champions.
They are determined to make this a competitive series.
The Rangers' depth has served them well, as head coach Alain Vigneault has been able to roll four lines and played six defencemen for most of the first two games.
It's made for exhilarating play, although both coaches are likely displeased with the number of mistakes made by their teams.
Fans of the game have got to be thrilled with the fever pitch that the games have been played at so far.
Justin Williams Is Prime Time
Justin Williams is as clutch as they come. He added three more assists in Game 2.
He's one of the brightest players in the NHL. He rarely displays flash in his game. All he does is score big goals, set up important ones and elevate his game at the biggest moments.
He's an unselfish player, and it is obvious that he has the kind of focus and poise in big games that most professional athletes would kill for.
He epitomizes the "never say die" attitude that the Kings have had in this 2014 playoff run. He played some of his most inspired hockey in Game 2 in Los Angeles.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
Drew Doughty had a strong Game 1. He was very good in Game 2 as well, but Ryan McDonagh raised his game to another level.
The Conn Smythe Trophy hopeful added two more points, had seven hits and recorded two blocked shots. McDonagh played in all game situations and thrived throughout the game. He played over 37 minutes in this marathon contest.
The former Montreal Canadiens draft pick is maturing right before our eyes. He's not yet 25, and it is scary to think where his game could go as he enters his prime years.
The St. Paul, Minnesota, native is proving he's an elite NHL defender.
Jonathan Quick Is Due to Get Hot
Jonathan Quick has played well for parts of the first two games, but he has not been dominant.
He's one of the better athletes at his position. He's good positionally; however, he is at his best when he is out of position and needs to scramble to make the save.
Quick came into Game 2 with a 2014 playoff save percentage of just .907. That's 15 percentage points below his playoff average.
He did make some big saves in Game 2, but it will be surprising if he does not string together a few periods, if not games, of high-end goaltending.
He made 34 saves in Game 2 on 38 shots. Expect him to be even better in Game 3.
Chris Kreider Is a King in Rangers Clothing
Chris Kreider had a pretty special Game 2. He's just 23 years old, but at 6'3" and 226 pounds, he's one of the heavier loads in the NHL today.
He's a runaway freight train when he has his feet moving like he did in Game 2. He had five shots, nine hits and one assist in Game 2.
If he wasn't sending a snow shower toward Jonathan Quick, he was putting all kinds of pressure on the Kings defence by carrying the puck with speed through the neutral zone or finishing checks on the Kings' skaters.
The Rangers have to remain positive as they head back to New York despite being down 2-0 in games.
Look for Kreider to continue to be a physical presence at Madison Square Garden and make life miserable for his Los Angeles opponents.
He's going to need to be as resilient as the Kings' entire squad. The Rangers' Stanley Cup hopes may just depend on it.
All stats can be found on NHL.com unless noted otherwise.
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