The Kings have proven to be very resilient in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final. It seems as though a light turns on as soon as they get down two goals.
The way they’ve been able to resuscitate themselves from four two-goal deficits in the first two games is by taking advantage of Rangers mistakes. And it’s been most prevalent in the Blueshirts clearing game.
Four of the Kings eight goals in the series are the direct result of the Rangers inability to chip the puck cleanly out of their zone. In three of the four instances, instead of making the easy play off the boards they got cute with the puck and paid the price.
Here they are in all their glory. If you have a weak stomach you might not want to watch.
In Game 1, with the Rangers leading 2-0 late in the first period, Derek Stepan found himself with the puck in the defensive end with time and space to chip the puck off the boards and harmlessly out of the zone. Instead, he decided to attempt to pass it through the slot to a streaking Chris Kreider. The result was the turning point of the game…
…starting in pee-wees you’re told never pass the puck through the slot in your own zone. I understand Stepan is trying to make a play, but he knows better than that.
In overtime in Game 1, after having trouble corralling the puck, then slipping down, Dan Girardi panicked and threw a weak clearing attempt up the boards. The result was a game winning goal by Justin Williams…
…i know I just killed Stepan for not going off the boards with his clearing attempt, but Girardi has to know he doesn’t have enough strength from his knees to clear it and either send it behind the net or possibly even to Lunqvist to freeze the puck.
In Game 2, with the Rangers again leading 2-0, Brad Richards, who apparently goes to the Derek Stepan school of clearing, receives a pass from Kevin Klein near the blue line in the defensive end and decides to attempt a lateral pass to a streaking St. Louis through the neutral zone. The result, the Kings pick the pass off and cut the lead in half…
…this is inexcusable for the veteran Richards, especially after the Stepan giveaway in Game 1. He needs to learn from his teammates mistakes not replicate them.
With the Rangers clinging to a one-goal lead in the middle of the third period of Game 2, Ryan McDonagh receives the puck on his backhand at the side of the net with Marian Gaborik bearing down on him. Instead of going up to the boards where Rick Nash is offering support, McDonagh loses the puck trying to stick-handle through Gaborik. The result, a tie game.
…have I mentioned the Rangers need to go up the boards. I’m not sure if McDonagh’s vision was blocked and he couldn’t see Nash, but he’s got to get it out of trouble quickly by going as previously stated off the boards or possibly swinging it around the net. Stick-handling in a crowd in front of the net is a recipe for disaster.
So while the Kings deserve kudos for their never say die attitude through the first two games, the Rangers have made it easy for them to rebound by serving up scoring opportunities on a silver platter.
Which is why I feel that the Rangers still have a legitimate chance of climbing back in this series. All the wounds have been self inflicted. Cut down on the gaffes and this series is tied by late Wednesday night.