Friday, June 13, 2014

King Henrik and the Rangers look to keep the LA KIngs from their Stanley Cup throne


Whatever it is that the coach says in that Neflix film, it seems to work.

New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault made mention of that now viral moment of television commercial fame. Tempting reporters with the prospect of a reproduction, then dashing from the press conference prior to game four, no doubt to deliver his Netflix night at the Improv act in the Ranger dressing room.

The speech it appears worked quite well, New York finally finding a reward for hard work assisted mightily by their goaltender, with Henrik Lundqvist having the kind of night that Rangers fans were waiting for in this final round.

Once again, when elimination was on the horizon, King Henrik rose to the occasion shutting down the Kings, lifting New York to the 2-1 victory and sending everyone packing for Los Angeles and game five tonight.

Wednesday's success was all on King Henrik, as Lundqvist faced 41shots over the course of the three periods, a good many of them in the frantic final twenty minutes of play as the Kings put on the pressure to try and make a sweep of things.

As they have in all four games, Los Angeles has seem to grow more confident with every shift, game four was no exception and if not for the work of Lundqvist, Lord Stanley's mug would no doubt be around a pool somewhere in Hollywood by now.

The brooms however were destined to be put away, the Rangers live on and should they make the most of their Friday night on the west coast, they'll be back in the Gardens for Monday night, with the Stanley Cup then very much a riveting series.

But first things first, the task at hand is to play Game five period, by period, looking to get out to an early lead and then hold off what will be a tireless attack from an LA team that would clearly love to reward their fans with the visual of the Stanley Cup skated around Staples Centre.

For coach Vigneault, there was really only one movie for viewing on the flight across North America...

For the Rangers, there  is really only one theme for Friday night...

Some previews of Game five can be found below:

Rangers seeking 'redemption' in L. A.
Rangers don't alter lines for Game 5
Richards' Rangers truly believe they are Kings' equals
Why Lundqvist will force a Game 6 in New York
Time for NY Rangers to be road warriors against Kings to bring series back home
Brad Richards fine with role on NY Rangers' fourth line
About time for Rick Nash to cash in with a goal for NY Rangers
A little light reading before Game 5
Kings will be at Staples Centre; but where will the Stanley Cup be?
Kings 'get ready to go again' in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final
Los Angeles Kings believe there's room for improvement despite heavily outplaying New York Rangers in Game 4
Los Angeles Kings plan to make their own breaks in Game 5 against New York Rangers
Conn Smythe Trophy vote will be between New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist and up to five Los Angeles Kings players
Kings at finish line of Stanley Cup marathon
What Kings need to do tonight to win Stanley Cup
Rangers have accomplished only survival
Kings wary of Rangers resolve
Kings can hoist Stanley Cup on home ice again

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kings take stranglehold on Cup Final

Fifteen shots normally might suggest that the outcome on the night wasn't quite what had been hoped for. But when you put three of the fifteen in the net and hold off an opposition attack that featured 32 shots and no goals, things, one might say are going your way.

As the final moments of Game three played out in New York City, the Los Angeles Kings on the strength of some stellar goal tending from Jonathan Quick now find themselves but one victory away from another skate around the rink with Lord Stanley's Cup.

It's no surprise, that when you do a word count on the reviews of last nights 3-0 Kings victory, the name of Jonathan Quick probably top the list. He was that dominating on Monday night, that pivotal to the Kings holding a three games to none lead in the best of 7 Stanley Cup final.

32 shots, no goals last night, three games of strong play and no wins so far in the series, the frustration level for the Rangers must be getting close to being off the charts by this point.

From the lost opportunities of the first two games, which saw the Kings come back from deficits to claim a pair of home ice victories, to the overwhelming control of play that went unrewarded from the Hockey Gods on Monday night, the Rangers are quickly running out of time and opportunity to launch what would be a comeback for the ages.

For Rangers fans, a frantic first period turned to disaster with but one tick of the clock to go, as a Jeff Carter shot deflected off the seemingly star crossed Dan Girardi, the puck finding its way into the back of the net and providing the Kings with an opening goal to take into the second period.

The night of bad bounces continued in the second as Jake Muzzin  on the Kings power play, fired a puck from the point that drifted off the glove of Martin St. Louis, with Henrik Lundqvist left to watch helplessly as the puck claimed the net and pushed the Kings lead to 2 goals.

Mike Richards put the finishing touches on the Rangers late in the second period, an attempted pass deflecting off of Ryan McDonagh and coming right back to Richards who suddenly found a gaping bit of space and a Henrik Lundqvist going in the opposite direction, an opportunity presented for Richards to shovel the Kings third goal of the night towards its destination.

It's been that kind of a series for the Rangers, who must feel as though after three rounds of a story that could have been a movie plot, they now find that it's morphing into a horror flick of epic Hollywood proportions.

What's left for Alain Vigneault to do, is to try and wring every ounce of energy and push back from his team for Wednesday's Game Four. A task that is providing as vivid an example as there could be, of filling the quota on taking things one game at a time.

One item for motivation purposes may be to point to the competition for Wednesday, highlighting how the Kings down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks battled back to salvage that series and launch their lengthy march to the Stanley Cup Final.

The only problem for Mr. Vigneault, the Kings, they aren't playing like the Sharks.

And the Rangers, it would appear, have exhausted any kind of puck luck reserve that would come in handy right about now.

The Stanley Cup will be back at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, making an appearance for the first time since a Ranger Stanley Cup victory in 1994.

If the Gallery Gods of Madison Square hope to see it back for an encore, the home side is going to have to find a way to solve Mr. Quick and shut down a Kings team that plays as tenacious a game as seen in a long time.

So daunting is the challenge ahead for the Rangers that even the ticket scalpers of New York City have run up the white flag, with asking prices for Game Four down 20 per cent and falling.

When you've lost the ticket scalpers, the omens for the Rangers would appear truly dire.

The Boxscore and recap of Game three can be found here.

Some views of Game three can be found below:

Luck has left the building for the Rangers
Jonathan Quick at his best puts Kings at doorstep of Cup championship
Kings on verge of second Stanley Cup title after 3-0 win over Rangers
Kings' run to the Stanley Cup could be the best L. A. has ever seen
One more win and Kings will be in a Stanley Cup championship state of mind
Los Angeles Kings put it all together in win over New York Rangers
Jonathan Quick shuts out NY Rangers as Kings take 3-0 series lead
NY Rangers try Rick Nash on power play, but still ineffective
Jonathan Quick and King erase excitement and hope out of NY Rangers and Madison Square Garden
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick makes memorable debut at MSG in Stanley Cup Final
Jonathan Quick has Kings on verge of another crown
Jonathan Quick comes up big for Kings
Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick shuts out New York Rangers to take 3-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final
Jonathan Quick saving Kings
Rangers down, all but out

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Kings put Rangers on thin ice with 2 game to 0 lead heading back to New York City

Getting off to fast starts isn't working particularly well for the New York Rangers, who have seen two consecutive games slip away at the hands of a rather resilient, if at times lucky Los Angeles Kings squad.

Considering the amount of hockey that both teams have played on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, the prospect of extra minutes tacked on is most likely something that you would think that the Rangers and Kings would want to avoid.

But, two games into the East Coast/West Coast showdowns, playing on has taken a whole new meaning.

Game One saw the Kings chip away at the Rangers two goal lead of the first period, taking things into a fairly quick Overtime session, which saw Los Angeles claim its first victory but four minutes into the extra frame. With Justin Williams capitalizing on a Dan Girardi turnover to secure the Kings the first W of the Best of Seven Series.

Game Two once again found the Rangers storming off the bench to stake themselves to a two goal lead, something which as we may be learning is about as welcome as root canal.

The Kings found themselves down the two goals heading into period number two, quickly grabbing
one back before the period was but two minutes old.

The Rangers would regain their two goal margin by mid period but holding the advantage would prove troublesome, the Kings turn right around and shaving the difference by one again three minutes later.

The pace of the game though would deliver the Rangers yet one more chance to try and secure a road win, as eleven seconds later they were back in the lead by two goals, a 4-2 spread that would hold until the start of period three.

The Kings revisited a familiar theme in the final twenty, clawing their way back from what seemed like a likely defeat to  closing the gap and then drawing even all before the eight minute mark.

And while there were many chances for both teams to try and snare what could have been the winning goal in regulation time, neither could find the range, setting the scene for the next thirty minutes of desperation hockey.

Not one, but two Overtime periods would play out at the Staples Centre, a first frame of twenty where the chances were there, but the goal tending and defensive assignments held the day.

The second overtime appeared that it may be going the same route as the first as each time found space in the others end, but could not deliver the final marker to secure victory. Until the 10:26 mark of period, the 90th minute of play on the night when Dustin Brown tipped in a Willie Mitchell shot, providing the Kings with  the victory and a commanding 2 game to 0 lead.

For Alain Vigneault's Rangers the frustrations must be in the process of getting into their heads, two consecutive games where in lengthy stretches they clearly outplayed their hosts, only to watch them hang on, recharge and then take charge of the game at key moments and now with the prospect of closing down the 2014 season in New York by Wednesday.

The Rangers will need to focus on the positives of their play in California, banishing the turnovers and at times sloppy mistakes that provided the crack for the Kings to break games open.

New York's season comes down to the knowledge that there is no longer any room for error, two more losses and 2014 will marked in the playoff journals as the year the Rangers came close to recapturing the passion of 1994, only to see it slip away to a tenacious Kings squad that seemingly never lets doubt get in the way of the path they are following.

Two more wins and that path takes them home to LA and another chance to show off a trophy or two.

National Post-- Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown scores in double overtime for another comeback win over New York Rangers
CBC Sports-- Dustin Brown does it all for the Kings
New York Post-- Rangers lose heartbreaker in double OT, now in 2-0 hole
New York Daily News-- NY Rangers drop second straight to Kings on Dustin Brown deflection in 2OT loss
Newsday-- Lead squandered, Rangers just can't cash in on big chances in 2 - OT loss to Kings
Los Angeles Times-- Kings Game 2 win is a masterpiece
Los Angeles Daily News-- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown scores double overtime goal for biggest play of post season
USA Today-- Comeback Kings grab 2-0 series lead vs. Rangers
The Hockey News-- Dustin Brown scores OT winner, Rangers blow another lead in Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup 2014 -- The Stanley Cup Final

Our archive page for the reviews of the Final Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

New York Rangers vs Los Angeles Kings

June 4-- New York 2 at Los Angeles 3 (OT)
June 7-- New York 4 at Los Angeles 5 (2 OT)
June 9-- Los Angeles 3 at New York 0
June 11-- Los Angeles 1 at New York 2
June 13-- New York 2 at Los Angeles 3 (2 OT)

Los Angeles wins the Stanley Cup Final 4 games to 1

HockeyNation notes on the series

June 13-- King Henrik and the Rangers look to keep the LA Kings from their Stanley Cup Throne
June 10-- Kings take stranglehold on Cup Final
June 8-- Kings put Rangers on thin ice with 2 game to 0 lead heading back to New York City

Back over the boards for the final round

Well, a fair amount of time has passed by between our sitting out the first round and our re-entry into the reviews of the Final Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A planned break that became more of an extended absence, ( longer than we originally planned) the prospect of trying to catch up to the weeks missed a more daunting prospect than originally expected.

With that as a preamble, it's time to try and recapture some of the run up to this final round, providing at least a bit of a close to the 2013-14 season.

To start the process off, a recap of the Path to Stanley through the first three rounds.

Stanley Cup Recap (Rounds 1 through 3)

As we play a little catch up hockey, we'll quickly review how April morphed into May and the path that led Los Angeles and New York to the Stanley Cup Final. We return to our blogging efforts with the Kings and Rangers and a guy named Stanley.

Round Three

Chicago vs Los Angeles
Los Angeles advances 4 games to 3

Montreal vs New York Rangers
New York advances 4 games to 2

Round Two

Chicago vs Minnesota
Chicago advances 4 games to 2

Los Angeles Kings vs Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles advances 4 games to 3

Boston vs Montreal
Montreal advances 4 games to 3

Pittsburgh vs New York
New York advances 4 games to 3

Round One

Minnesota vs Colorado
Minnesota advanced 4 games to 3

St. Louis at Chicago
Chicago advanced 4 games to 2

Anaheim vs Dallas
Anaheim advanced 4 games to 2

San Jose vs Los Angeles
Los Angeles advanced 4 games to 3

Boston vs Detroit
Boston advanced 4 games to 1

Tampa Bay vs Montreal
Montreal advanced 4 games to 0

Pittsburgh vs Columbus
Pittsburgh advanced 4 games to 2

New York at Philadelphia
New York advanced 4 games to 3