The Los Angeles Kings currently hold a 3-1 advantage over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup, but the conclusion of the 2014 NHL playoffs isn't necessarily on the horizon.
While Game 5 could very well be the final game of the 2014 season, a win by the Rangers on Friday night would represent a turning point in the series. By winning on Friday, after looking up at a 3-0 deficit prior to Game 4, the Rangers will have effectively gathered momentum heading into a Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have also been in a 3-1 hole before. In Round 2 of the playoffs, New York faced that deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Everything came together at once, and they went on a three-game streak to win the series and advance.
There's a lot on the line in Game 5. Below is all the must-know information to watch a must-see Stanley Cup matchup.
Schedule and TV Info
*Live stream via NBC Live Extra.
|Game 1||June 4||Kings defeated Rangers, 3-2||--||--|
|Game 2||June 7||Kings defeated Rangers, 5-4||--||--|
|Game 3||June 9||Kings defeated Rangers, 3-0||--||--|
|Game 4||June 11||Rangers defeated Kings, 2-1||--||--|
|Game 5||June 13||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
|*Game 6||June 16||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
|*Game 7||June 18||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
NHL.com. *If necessary.
Game 5 Predictions
Even though the Rangers won in Game 4, the team was definitely outplayed by a Kings team that looked hungrier. The Rangers got several lucky bounces, however, as Benoit Pouliot redirected the team's first goal past Jonathan Quick, and Anton Stralman saved a goal within centimeters of completely crossing the goal line.
Sure, a win is a win, but the Rangers won't win in Los Angeles with that kind of performance. The first step in the right direction is solving Quick, and Carl Hagelin recognizes that it won't be easy, via Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times:
Hagelin said the route to beating Quick is 'for us to keep shooting and [keep] getting to rebounds. You’ve got to make sure you bear down when you get a chance. You’ve got to make sure you really want to score that shot. Net traffic always helps, getting to rebounds, those are things that can help us score goals tonight.'
There were signs of improvement in this area of the offense in Game 4. Pouliot didn't score on a rebound play, but he did score from right in front of the net. Martin St. Louis' goal also came from right in front of the cage, as he redirected a pass just over Quick's right pad.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News pointed out that the Rangers were at least trying for rebound opportunities in the contest:
Rangers really throwing the puck at Quick's pads looking for rebounds.— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) June 8, 2014
There were too many opportunities missed, though. I predict that the Rangers will change their mentality on rebounds in Game 5. They'll be more aggressive and expect rebounds. This will allow them to buckle down and net a couple.
But will two goals off rebounds be enough to defeat the Kings? Well, history is repeating itself. Back in 2012, the Kings went up 3-0 against the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final. The first three games of the 2012 Final and this Final ended in the same way—overtime, overtime, shutout. Then, the opposition won Game 4. Check it out below:
|Game||2012 (vs. Devils)||2014 (vs. Rangers)|
|1||Kings, 2-1 (OT)||Kings, 3-2 (OT)|
|2||Kings, 2-1 (OT)||Kings, 5-4 (OT)|
|3||Kings, 4-0||Kings, 3-0|
|4||Devils, 3-1||Rangers, 2-1|
The Devils also won Game 5. Will the Rangers?
The Rangers are in a do-or-die situation. It will take at least two goals to beat the Kings, as their offense has turned it up a notch against Henrik Lundqvist. The two rebound goals I'm predicting might not be enough, so a third goal must be scored at some point in the action.
I think Rick Nash, someone who has been very quiet this series, scores on a breakaway in the second period.
With history on their side, the Rangers will force a Game 6 with a 3-2 win in Los Angeles.