For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Ramsay to break down the action. Ramsay will be checking in throughout the series.
Tuesday, Ramsay was hired by the Edmonton Oilers to be an assistant coach. He played in more than 1,000 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres before going on to coach the Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers. In the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he led the Flyers to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Final.
"They're searching," Ramsay told NHL.com. "There's no doubt."
Ramsay said the Rangers shouldn't have to search too far for an answer in Game 4 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). He doesn't see too much in their game that needs to change other than execution.
The Rangers simply haven't executed at key moments in the series; the Kings have.
Two perfect examples came in the first period of Game 3.
Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello had the puck on his stick and what looked like an empty net to shoot at with 7:26 remaining. He couldn't put it in. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick got his paddle across, the puck hit the post, may have deflected off the paddle and bounced out.
"I thought he was going to score," Ramsay said.
Then, with seconds remaining in the period, the Rangers had a breakdown defensively that led to a shot by Jeff Carter that first hit off defenseman Dan Girardi's skate then goalie Henrik Lundqvist's glove before going into the net with 0.8 seconds left.
"They look mentally fragile after that," Ramsay said. "I don't think they played nearly as well after that. That part became a bit of an issue. They were forcing plays that weren't quite there. There's no question you're going to do that."
Ramsay said the key for the Rangers is to try to focus on the positives, such as their power play, which looked dangerous but couldn't score on 10 shots over six opportunities in Game 3.
"As a team you can't look at it and say, 'We're not as good as them, we can't beat them,'" Ramsay said. "Part of the job of a coaching staff is to explain why they can win and then follow through on it. The players have to look at things they've done well. They have to concentrate on their successes, and their power play looked awfully good."
Ramsay found a flaw in the Rangers power play that, if corrected, he said could make a difference in them extending the series.
"I thought [Kings defenseman] Matt Greene was good, had a really solid game, but they didn't make him chase it around like they did in Game 1," Ramsay said. "I think the Rangers have to adjust a little on the power play to force L.A. to come back down. They got lots of control, took point shots, but they need to threaten L.A. with a low play."
He also said the Rangers have to be more careful with their sticks. They were guilty of three stick infractions, two for high sticking and one for slashing. The Kings scored a power-play goal when defenseman Marc Staal was in the box for high sticking.
"You can't take those penalties," Ramsay said. "They take high-sticking penalties back to back and it cost them, and they probably should have gotten another one because Staal got away with another one. They have to maintain their level of discipline.
"There are little things they can't do against this good hockey team. They have to understand that."
Ramsay said the Rangers also have to understand that if they do everything just a little bit better they can win a game and extend the series.
"You never want to lose four straight. You always want to show people how good you are," he said. "The Rangers have to regroup and only think about that first period. Go out, have a good solid first period, play your game and impose your will on L.A. Whatever happens after that happens. The first step is the most important step. Just have one good period."