Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers: Biggest Takeaways from Game 3
If you haven't done so already, tell all of your friends who don't watch hockey that some great action can be found in this Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, the clock is ticking on their season, as they now face the nearly insurmountable task of defeating the Kings four straight times.
In another great battle that was much closer than the 3-0 score would indicate, the Rangers could not solve L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick.
The Kings lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 with Game 4 set for Madison Square Garden in New York on Wednesday.
Let's take a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 3.
The Kings Can Win from the Front
Lo and behold, the Kings can get a lead and defend it. While rumours abounded that this was the case, NHL fans now know it to be true.
The Kings took a lead in a game for the first time in this series. There is no question that the Rangers did not go quietly into the night, but the Kings looked pretty comfortable from the end of the first period onward.
Psychologically, it has to be damaging to the Rangers to be beaten by a team that can come from behind and also defend the lead.
The Kings will enter Game 4 with a lot of confidence and a real chance to sweep the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1998, when the Detroit Red Wings did the same to the Washington Capitals.
Fans of the game would love to see the series extended based on the excellent play so far, though.
The Rangers Have Had No Luck
If the Rangers hadn't had bad luck, they would have had no luck at all in Game 3. If it wasn't bad bounces leading to goals; it was deflected shots eluding Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers also had no puck luck, as they were unable to finish time and again. Jonathan Quick was excellent, but his goal posts also helped him out on more than one occasion.
Bad luck can begin to weigh on both fans and a team.
By the beginning of the third period, it seemed like the air had been let out of MSG.
Somehow, the Rangers have to focus on winning periods. Looking at the big picture is not recommended.
The Kings' Experience Is Winning Games
The Kings have a number of players with big-game experience. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar are the marquee names with much of it.
What's interesting is that younger players such as Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli and Dwight King are also gaining a lot of invaluable experience.
All of them are playing a very good brand of playoff hockey.
Richards and Carter were particularly good in Game 3. Both veterans registered a goal, with Carter getting the eventual game-winner at the end of the first period.
These experienced players have been the difference, particularly when compared to the Rangers vets.
If the Kings win the Stanley Cup, fans will be able to point to these veterans, along with budding superstars Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, as the main reasons why.
Martin St. Louis Continues to Struggle
The Rangers' issues run much deeper than just one player.
However, there can be no denying that Martin St. Louis has been unable to maintain his high level of play against the Kings.
There is no question that the native of Laval, Quebec, is still an elite NHL player. He's proven it throughout this magical run by the Blueshirts.
Against the big, strong Kings, he has not been able to break free from the close checking. He has just one point in the series. That came on the power play.
In 89 shifts in the series, the talented winger has just one point and five shots on goal. That is simply not good enough from the Rangers' best offensive player.
Others have to step up as well, but the winger's performance in Game 4 must be better than it was in Game 3.
New York's playoff life may just depend on it.
Jonathan Quick Was Simply the Best
Henrik Lundqvist cannot be blamed for any of the three Kings goals. While he's paid huge dollars to stop pucks, deflections and bad bounces were as much to blame as anything.
However, the buck does stop with King Henrik. Likewise, Jonathan Quick is the final line of defence for the Kings.
Quick was exceptional in Game 3. He was also lucky, but he has absolutely no reason to apologize for his kind posts.
Quick faced 32 shots, 10 of which were with the man advantage. While Quick was only average in many playoff games this spring, he was much better than that in Game 3.
He was strong positionally and at his acrobatic best on a few occasions.
If Quick has found his groove, it will not bode well for the Rangers in their attempt to extend the series to five games.
New York's Power Play Was Powerless
The New York Rangers had all kinds of chances to get back in the game. The power play was a huge disappointment with zero goals on six chances.
The power-play units did produce 10 shots. In fact, the Rangers offense in general was pretty strong throughout the night.
The bottom line is that it failed to click at home, though. The club has registered just one power-play goal in the series.
Scoring once in 14 chances is not going to get it done, especially against the Kings. With Quick going as well as he is now, the Rangers are going to have to get a lot of traffic in front of him.
Along with this is that they will have to elevate their power-play execution. At times in Game 3, the Rangers struggled to set up in the offensive zone, let alone get any sustained pressure.
If they duplicate that level of play in Game 4, the Stanley Cup is likely to be handed out on Wednesday evening in the Big Apple.