For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings, NHL.com has enlisted the help of former NHL coach Perry Pearn to break down the action. Pearn will be checking in throughout the series.
Pearn has spent the past 18 seasons as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and a second tenure with the Jets in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings did not play up to the standard they've set during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs for much of Game 1 of the Final against the New York Rangers, but they did take a 1-0 series lead.
After a sloppy first period and a so-so second, the Kings were much stronger in the third before winning 3-2 in overtime. Game 2 is Saturday at Staples Center (7 p.m.; NBC, CBC, RDS), and there will be a couple of things Los Angeles will be trying to clean up.
"Certainly I think they want to be better on special teams," longtime NHL assistant coach Perry Pearn said. "Giving up the shorthanded goal, that's certainly something. You have to be conscious against the Rangers because not only do they have the speed, but they have an attacking mentality when they are killing. I think being prepared for that will be big. I mentioned it before, but I think the special teams battle is really important for the Rangers, especially if they can win it."
When things did start going well for the Kings, they were dominant. Los Angeles outshot New York 20-3 in final 20 minutes of regulation before winning on Justin Williams' goal 4:36 into overtime.
"If the Kings are going to look at anything, it will be that third period and what exactly did they do to create what they created," Pearn said. "I think in the third period the great pressure they put on the Rangers came from the forecheck and the fact that they started to get pucks at the net from every direction.
"One of the keys against a guy like [Rangers goalie Henrik] Lundqvist is if you let him get in your head, then you hesitate a split-second and try to take the perfect shot. To me, that just works into his favor and his strength because that gives him that split-second to get into position and get set. That makes him much tougher to score on. I think just firing it quick at the net and making sure you're going there for rebounds is a really, really good way to attack them. It's not going to be easy to beat him, but you might find that you catch him where he is not in quite as good of position and a rebound comes out that you can really do something with."
The Rangers spent a lot of time without the puck in the third period. When they did have it in the first two, there seemed to be a concerted effort to possess it below the goal line and try to create offense from there.
New York put several weird-angled shots toward Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick, and the Rangers were also looking for one-timers.
"Whether that was the game plan or not, but to me with watching the Rangers, they get into what I consider to be funks where they over-pass the puck," Pearn said. "They pass up better opportunities to shoot. The game plan may have been to get the puck behind Quick and attack him from different angles, but I also wonder if some of it was the Rangers thinking that he's one of the best goalies in the League and they were passing too much and not creating second- and third-chances for themselves.
"If you're going to have success against L.A., you need to create second- and third-chance opportunities. It forces them to defend against different kinds of pucks, and I think they are vulnerable and will take some penalties when you do that. Whether the Rangers can create that or not, I'm not sure."
One problem area for the Kings was the Rangers' speed, particularly on the wings. New York was able to beat Los Angeles in the neutral zone at times by not letting the Kings get set up.
Carl Hagelin had a couple of breakaway chances, one of which turned into a shorthanded goal, and other odd-man opportunities were keys to creating a way past the Kings. When the Rangers had to carry the puck through bodies after the Kings were set up or dump it into the offensive zone, they struggled to generate offense, particularly as the game wore on.
"I don't think the Kings will continue to have as big of a problem with that," Pearn said. "It's really, really hard to go from a Game 7 against such a great opponent and come right back and be on top of your game in that first game of the next series. From my prospective, if you look at it from L.A.'s point of view, that's a terrific first step toward the Cup.
"It's been their way the whole playoffs. They are just so resilient. They just seem to find a way to get it done when they have. They didn't play great, but they cleaned some stuff up and the next you know they're walking away with a win when it looked like there was no chance."