What have the New York Rangers done to upset the hockey gods?
For the second game in a row in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers watched a two-goal first-period lead evaporate en route to an overtime loss. Even worse on Saturday night, New York threw away a 4-2 lead in Game 2 before Dustin Brown scored the winner in the Los Angeles Kings' 5-4 double-overtime victory.
Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com joked that the Rangers will think better of scoring the first two goals in Game 3:
Coaching adjustments are important: Vigneault says Rangers plan to decline first two goals in Game 3.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) June 8, 2014
It seems odd that New York could be down 2-0 yet still have positives to take out of the series so far. After all, the Rangers haven't actually trailed for a single second in this series, per Bryan Fischer of NFL.com:
So the Rangers are down 0-2 and haven’t trailed for a second of game time.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) June 8, 2014
If Los Angeles does grab a lead in Game 3 before overtime, it would be the Kings' first since Game 6 of the conference final.
When: Monday, June 9, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds (via Vegas Insider as of 1:16 a.m. ET on Sunday, June 8)
Los Angeles: +130
New York: -150
Sooner or later, you'd have to think that New York's luck will turn around. The Rangers just need to get their offense and Henrik Lundqvist on the same page. In Game 1, Lundqvist received little support from his forwards, wasting a 40-save performance. In Game 2, the All-Star goaltender was a little off his best, negating New York's strong offensive showing.
Many Rangers fans were crying foul on Dwight King's goal to make it a 4-3 game in the third period.
After the game, New York coach Alain Vigneault kept his reaction short, per ESPN.com's Katie Strang:
Asked whether King should've been called for interference on LA's third goal, Alain Vigneault responded: "Ask the NHL"— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) June 8, 2014
Lundqvist also couldn't hide his disgust with the referees' non-call.
What the Kings are doing so well in the series is spreading the wealth offensively. Los Angeles hasn't been reliant on one or two players to be the primary goal-scorers. Eight different players have scored so far for Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup Final.
One of the Kings' advantages coming into the series was the firepower in their forward lines. The strength of their depth also wears down opposing defenses as the game goes on. The Rangers have had no respite from the attack.
Los Angeles' offense has bettered New York's organized defense, which goes four lines deep.
That should change in Game 3.
New York's defense should revert back to its old self on Monday. That unit is too good to expect the same kind of lapses happening again. And if the referee calls interference on Los Angeles' third goal, who knows how the game unfolds?
The Rangers needn't panic. A couple of swings here and there, and they're up 2-0 in the series, or at the very least it's tied 1-1. Vigneault should instruct his team to keep doing what it's doing.
One of Los Angeles' biggest concerns at the moment has to be Jonathan Quick. It's not so much that he's playing poorly—except he kinda is—but more that he was the team's biggest vulnerability coming in and hasn't done much to prove otherwise so far.
Quick helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012, but that player has been rarely seen this year.
According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, the former Conn Smythe winner has let in four or more goals eight times in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs:
Tonight marks the eighth time in these playoffs Jonathan Quick has allowed four or more goals in a game. Didn't happen once in 2012.— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) June 8, 2014
He's also let in nearly as many goals in two games as he did during the entirety of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, per Greg Beacham of The Associated Press:
Jonathan Quick gave up 7 goals in 6 games during the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. He's given up 6 goals in the first 100 minutes this year.— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) June 8, 2014
In Game 2, the Rangers did a great job of testing Quick, which was one of their biggest problems in Game 1. In their 3-2 loss last Thursday, New York had 27 shots, compared to Los Angeles' 43. On Saturday, the balance was a little more even, with the Rangers registering 38 shots to the Kings' 44.
The key for the Rangers will be continuing their offensive barrage on Quick. Don't let him breathe and don't let him build any confidence.
Although home-ice advantage hasn't played a huge role throughout the postseason, you'd expect that a Rangers team coming off two straight overtime losses will have a response on Monday night. They'll be helped out by a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd.
Final Score: New York Rangers 3, Los Angeles Kings 1