Five Things that Must Happen for Rangers to Climb Back into Finals
The Rangers trail the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals 3-0. It is fair to say that the Blueshirts have deserved a better fate than what they have been given. After two very winnable games in LA, the Rangers lost in a disappointing game 3, 3-0.
Like games 1 and 2, the Blueshirts just could not seem to get a bounce. Quick was all world, and Lundqvist could not catch a break. The Kings scored with 0.7 seconds left in the first period on a Jeff Carter shot that caught the blade of Dan Girardi’s skate and sailed over Lundqvist’s glove. The Kings second goal was a fairly harmless wrister from Jake Muzzin on the power play that Marty St. Louis tried to knock down with his goal. Instead, the puck changed direction, and easily beat Lundqvist who was sliding from left to right and probably would have made a routine save. Mike Richards scored the third and final goal. He tried to slide a pass across on a 2-on-1, and McDonagh made a nice defensive play to block the attempt. The puck landed right back on Richards’ stick, and he beat Lundqvist as once again the net minder was caught helplessly sliding the other way.
So, this is it. The Rangers are a loss away from being swept and ending their season. The pressure is off the Blueshirts, as no one expects them to come back now. Coming back from 2-0 was fathomable, but 3-0? No chance. Since 1939, teams are 25-1 when leading 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final. But, one thing that we have learned throughout these playoffs is that the Rangers are a resilient bunch. They were essentially written off in the Pittsburgh series, as they lost three straight in ugly fashion to go down 3-1. We all know how that series ended. They have rebounded after poor performances all playoffs, and there is no reason they cannot do that in game 4. And take it one game at a time from there. Here are 5 keys to the Rangers making a historic comeback against the Kings:
Henrik Lundqvist – Anyone who says that Lundqvist is the reason the Rangers are down 3-0 has not watched the series at all. Sure, his GAA is an unKing-like 3.66 in the Final, but again he has not been to blame. Still, we know that Lundqvist has another gear, and the Rangers need vintage, stand-on-his-head efforts from the King to make a comeback.
Power play – The power play is 1-14 in the Final, and has looked downright terrible. It has been nothing short of a momentum killer, specifically in game 3. The Kings are too good 5-on-5 to not take advantage on the PP, so if the Rangers do not figure it out for game 4, they will be on the golf course by Thursday.
Finishing – The Rangers have to finish their opportunities. In game 3, Quick shutdown the Blueshirts and simply robbed the Rangers on the doorstep a few times (Zuccarello in the first, Brassard in the second). Not taking anything away from Quick, but how often do we say the Rangers ran into a hot goalie? Seems to happen quite a bit. Gotta put the puck in the net.
Coaching – The Rangers need Vigneault to be coaching at his best. He has to adjust matchups and read line changes in a way that exploits the Kings. The Rangers speed has been a clear issue for the Kings, so getting guys like Kreider and Hagelin out there against some of the lower defensive pairings for the Kings could be key. McDonagh and Girardi have to be out against the Kings top guns, and they have to play like they belong out there against them.
Leadership – Look, the Rangers are down 3-0. If they come back in this series, it will be looked at as nothing short of a miracle. This is when guys like Brad Richards, Marc Staal, Marty St. Louis and Rick Nash have to step up. Having the guys in the right mental state could be just as key as the physical aspect. If the Rangers have strong leaders in the locker room, which I think they do, they can put game 3 behind them and have a chance at the comeback.
Well, game 4 is tonight. We can speculate all we want, but the teams have to settle it on the ice. All I hope is that tomorrow I am not writing articles about the team’s plans for the offseason.
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