The 2014 Stanley Cup Final has been all Los Angeles Kings to this point, as the Western Conference champs have dominated the New York Rangers through the first three games of the NHL finale.
Games 1 and 2 were decided in overtime periods. The Kings proved the more resilient team in both instances, winning 3-2 in Game 1 and 5-4 in Game 2. Game 3 was a much different story. The Kings jumped out to an early lead and won 3-0.
Jonathan Quick has gotten the best of the Rangers to this point, but until the fourth game is won by the Kings, the Rangers still have life. While unlikely, the Rangers can still come back.
This series isn't over, even if the Kings have a stranglehold on it. Don't miss Game 4. It will either be the start of a potential comeback or the finale of the NHL season.
Below is all the viewing info you'll need.
|2014 Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Schedule|
|Game 4||June 11 (8 p.m. ET)||Los Angeles Kings at NY Rangers||NBCSN||NBC Live Extra|
Los Angeles Kings
Up 3-0 in the series, the Kings have played stellar hockey. Sure, they got off to slow starts in Games 1 and 2, but Jonathan Quick has bailed them out on more than one occasion. If this series ended today, he'd be my series MVP.
That said, Quick isn't the only King playing exceptionally well. So is Justin Williams, the second-leading point-scorer this postseason. He's putting together a strong enough postseason to be considered for the Conn Smythe.
His teammate, defenseman Drew Doughty, says that Williams is by far the most underrated player on the team, via Randy Miller of NJ.com: "Justin is the most underrated player on our team by a mile. He doesn’t get enough credit for what he does."
The Rangers will be motivated to take Game 4, but Williams will do his best to suppress the inevitable emotions that are going to take over Madison Square Garden.
He has left his mark on nearly every game of this postseason. As his team's best player right now not named Quick, he'll be relied upon heavily to close the door on New York in Game 4.
New York Rangers
Game 3 was a major disappointment, and Johnette Howard of ESPN.com described the disappointment perfectly:
The New York Rangers waited 20 years to bring the Stanley Cup finals back to Madison Square Garden. And then -- with Mark Messier, the hero of their 1994 run, looking on Monday -- they went out and lost Game 3, and almost surely this series, in the 20 minutes it took them to stagger through a hope-smothering second period that will go down as the capsulized version of why the Los Angeles Kings are now just one win from sweeping this series come Wednesday.
The Rangers simply look like a team that's out of whack. They're not playing with a ton of fire, and their offense is struggling mightily. Sure, it's not easy to solve Quick, but the Rangers are trying to shoot through him.
So many of their shots in Game 3 were directly at his body. The Rangers aren't working the corners of the net. Instead, they're trying to muscle it through. That isn't going to work.
A new strategy needs to be adopted for Game 4. The Rangers need to focus on crowding the net and getting in Quick's face. Rick Nash is someone in particular who must do that. For someone getting paid nearly $8 million, Nash needs to play much better.
The Rangers need to find some offense in Game 4 to prolong this series. If it doesn't happen, they'll lose the Stanley Cup on their home ice.