NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Los Angeles Kings at New York Rangers

Momentum Shifting Moments Have Defined Series

It’s really not fair that the Rangers find themselves in a virtually insurmountable 3-0 hole as they’ve played well enough to at least have one game in their back pocket through three games.

Unfortunately, in each game there was a huge momentum swinging play that went against the Rangers which not only altered the game but the series.

In Game 1, with the Rangers leading 2-0 late in the first period against a Kings team which seemed gassed after a tough seven game series against the Blackhawks, 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 a pass through the slot to a streaking Chris Kreider. The result was a momentum swinging goal that gave the Kings a jolt and got them back on track…

Early third period of Game 2 with the Rangers holding a 4-2 lead and looking like they’re all but assured to tie this series up, Dwight King attempts to get around Ryan McDonagh by cutting through the crease initiating contact with Henrik Lundqvist which prevents the Rangers netminder from stopping the point shot. The result was a shot to the arm of a Kings team who thrives on adversity and the feeling they can again comeback…

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And finally in the waning seconds of the first period in Game 3, after the Rangers played the Kings evenly through the first 19:54, Rick Nash dumped the puck weakly into  the Kings zone with six seconds left, which was quickly cleared up the ice to a streaking Justin Williams who entered the zone along the right wing wall and seemed to be resigned to dumping the puck deep and going into the first intermission tied. Unfortunately, Nash and John Moore both closed on Williams, who was more than 50 feet away from the net, opening up a path a truck could have driven through for Jeff Carter to find space receive the pass from an alert Williams and bury the puck and the Rangers with 0.8 seconds remaining. Absolutely devastating goal before the end of the period that seemed to take the air right out of MSG. It also gave the Kings their first in-game lead of the series, which historically means game over for their opponents…

There’s a fine line between winning and losing in the Stanley Cup Final. Sadly for the Rangers they’ve found themselves on the wrong side of that line whether from their own doing or factors out of their control.

If the Rangers don’t want these three plays to continue to define this series, they’re going to need to find ways to create their own momentum and not relinquish it once they have control of it.

Kevin

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