Sitting back, watching the LA Kings celebrate their first Stanley Cup win, ever, it’s a bittersweet moment for a New York Rangers fan. Sure, it was nice to see the New Jersey Devils fall apart, because the Devils didn’t just lose, they collapsed in a game that was completely winnable. But at the same time, it hurt to see the Rangers pack up their lockers one round too early for the Stanley Cup. I saw a lot of people breath a sigh of relief when the Rangers lost to the Devils, not because they were Devils fans, but because they thought the Kings would destroy the Rangers. Whether or not this would have happened is a foolish overestimate of the Kings skill and a serious devaluation of the New York Rangers skills on the ice.
While there are some who will blame game losses on human error, at the end of the day it is all about heart, soul, and getting that puck in the net. LA stats gathered from Brian Compton:
- Jonathan Quick finished the Stanley Cup Finals with a 1.11 GAA and a .947 SV%. In a 6 game series, Quick gave up just over a goal a game, with Game 4 ending 3-1 in the Devils favor. To balance that out, he had a shut out in Game 3.
- Henrik Lundqvist finished his series against the Devils with a 2.16 GAA and a .905 SV%.
- While it’s not a big difference between the two goalies, the Kings managed to out score their opponents 57-30 this post season.
- As a team, the Rangers could only dream of picking up 57 goals in 20 games.
- When LA was down a man, their PK was at a 92.1%.
- The Rangers? They scraped by with 84.1%
To say the Rangers would be doomed if facing the Kings in the Finals is foolish, but one has to wonder: could the Rangers have done better than the Devils? Picking up the pieces of a 3-0 deficit. Not giving in. Not letting negative thoughts get in their way. Just powering through, taking each game, each period, at a time. Ignoring all the comments about how unbeatable the Kings have been in the off season. Could the young New York Rangers team held it together for another two games, and force it to a Game 6?
Sure, the Rangers have Brad Richards, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Mike Rupp to show the young players how the playoffs work but could it have been enough? The slight age advantage the Devils had might have been the deal sealer honestly. “Act like you’ve been here before” could never be more true than in the playoffs. The lights, the cameras, the attention, could it have all been overwhelming to Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, and Michael Del Zotto? Could it have been overwhelming to the slightly older guys who hadn’t made it as far into the playoffs?
While we may never know how the New York Rangers could have fared against the LA Kings, one thing is for sure, the Stanley Cup has never looked more awesome that it did tonight, ending the Kings 45 year Cup drought.
Welcome to the Cup Club, boys!