There’s enough commentary out there providing the all-encompassing account of each game as it’s played. So instead, I offer you random thoughts and observations from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
For the first half of the opening period New York is dictating the pace. LA is spending long stretches of play hemmed in its own end. Interesting though, half way through the first; the Rangers have a team total of three hits and Dustin Brown himself has four. In four shifts. It’s hard to spot but this is how the Kings’ captain leads. Never mind that contact creates turnovers and that turnovers can become chances; when Brown collides with the opposition, it creates energy in the Kings’ camp. And that energy can turn momentum. I suggest that this is part of the explanation why the Kings come back as routinely as they do.
Hagelin’s shorthanded goal makes it 2-0 Rangers. A goal like this should mark the turning point in a Rangers’ win. Instead Carter follows up on a great chance of his own and continues to forecheck deep in the Rangers’ end. Clifford lifts the Carter pass up and over Lundqvist on a play in tight. Now we’re 2-1. The Kings head into the room after one period with a foothold rather than down 2-0. Can’t you already feel it coming?
Trevor Lewis is in two on one with Gaborik early in the period. Note to Lewis: if you’re not going to slide it over to the hottest player on any continent, you’ll wanna hit the net at a minimum.
Muzzin goes off for interference at 3:54. There’s a lot to like in the Rangers’ power play. They don’t ultimately convert, but they are moving it exceptionally well and creating promising looks. Good chances for St. Louis and Zuccarello both. LA is on its heels for most of the two minute minor. Keep an eye on this going forward.
Doughty’s fifth of the playoffs comes off a filthy little pick up thrown behind him. Then he pulls this double-clutch thing in the low slot to get Lundqvist moving. We’re tied at twos. Can you believe how routinely LA comes back from a two-goal deficit? At this time of year? For most teams that’s a hill that just cannot be climbed.
Past the halfway point of the period and the shots are 13-0 in LA’s favor. Waiting and watching for the moment the Rangers break down.
If you’re New York, on the one hand you’ve got to be thrilled you’re locked in a 2-2 tie this late while facing a team that’s been vastly superior offensively through the first three rounds. On the other hand, the determination of the group at the other end has to be leaving an impression on you.
Williams unassisted, four and a half minutes into the fourth period. Wow. Kings win and justice is served. With the exception of a flat start, LA outplayed New York in most every area of Game 1.
If New York intends to make a series of this, in Game 2 they’re going to need to do something dynamic. But what and how? LA defends well, they are producing offensively at a feverish clip, they’re physical and they are far and away the most driven team in recent memory. Toughest task yet for coach Vigneault and his Rangers. Wondering if that New York power play couldn’t provide something to rally around?
See you around the rink.