The New York Rangers played their “B” game in their loss to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime. Rangers coach Alain Vineault said in a press conference that his team “played their B game”. The New York Rangers came out in the first period of game one and played fast. They wanted to play the entire game in that way but could only muster forty minutes of Rangers hockey. The third period was their “B” game in a nutshell. To say the least they were not good at all the last twenty-six minutes of game one. After scoring the first two goals of the game in the first period, Alain Vineault thinks his team changed how they played when the Los Angeles Kings adjusted their neutral zone coverage. The New York Rangers are not a dump and chase team yet that is what the Los Angeles Kings forced them to do. The Los Angeles Kings are too big for that kind of game. Alain Vineault is going to have to find a way his team can keep the puck across the Los Angeles Kings blue line or his team is going back to New York down two games to none. The New York Rangers are a possession team as we all know by now. They don’t dump the puck in, they pass back to the defense and regroup and try to enter the zone with the puck again. Los Angeles Kings coach Daryl Sutter shut down the middle of the ice, forcing the Rangers to dump the puck in or turn it over. Alain Vineault has to come up with a game plan to enter the Los Angeles Kings zone while in possession of the puck.
The New York Rangers controlled possession for forty minutes of game one. Even at the time of the Los Angeles Kings first goal, the New York Rangers lead in puck possession and spent large portions of the first and second periods on the offensive. When the third period got under way the New York Rangers seemed to play conservative or scared to lose. They played their “B” game as Alain Vineault said and it ultimately cost them the game. Henrik Lundqvist stopped twenty shots in the third period alone and forty for the game but the Rangers managed only three shots in the third frame and wasted a masterful performance by the King, Henrik Lundqvist.
Through two periods the Los Angeles Kings seamed surprised at how fast the New York Rangers could transition from defense and go 200 feet for offensive chances off the rush. The problem for the New York Rangers in this game was turnovers. The Los Angeles Kings scored two of their goals off turnovers, including the winner in overtime. For twenty minutes of the game the Rangers controlled the bulk of play and even took a two to nothing lead at 15:03 of the first on a short handed goal by Carl Hagelin. Things were going the New York Rangers way. Kyle Clifford scored on a bad angle shot to cut the New York Rangers lead in half, but still the bulk of the shot attempts were by Rangers in the Kings zone. The New York Rangers stuck to their game plan and used speed to force the Los Angeles Kings into mistakes, namely turnovers. All four lines had good solid shifts in the second period and the New York Rangers continued to control the Puck Possession game. Drew Doughty scored to tie the game up at 06:36 of the second period and the momentum began to shift. The New York Rangers played an unassuming middle period and as a result were unable to regain the lead going into the second intermission.
At the onset of the third period, the Rangers played scared, preventative hockey. They played like they were afraid to lose more than they wanted to win. Third period shots were twenty to three in favor of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Kings are the best possession team in the league but the Rangers are right there with them. It took overtime and a bad giveaway by Dan Girardi to leave the puck for Justin Williams right in the slot to beat the New York Rangers. As good a possession team as the Kings are game one Corsi events (shot attempts) were sixty-four to sixty-three in favor of the Los Angeles Kings for a 50.4% advantage but the New York Rangers held a large advantage until the third period. You can view the possession statistics for the game at 2014-06-04: Rangers 2 at Kings 3 (OT) Game Advanced Stats | Extra Skater if you’re interested in the advanced statistics. These are how we determine the team that possessed the puck the most in a shift, game, or a season.
The Rangers Know what they have to do after a tough loss. They’ve been a great road team all year including the playoffs. John Moore will be eligible to return after serving his two game suspension for blindsiding Dale Weise in game five of the Conference Finals. Raphael Diaz filled in admirably but John Moore is the better option on the bottom pairing. Joining the rush with his speed and skating ability will help keep the Los Angeles Kings off balance. Coach Daryl Sutter likes to change up his lines and it worked during the last half of the second period. Alain Vineault will have to counter somehow either by changing his forecheck in certain situations or by mixing up his line combinations too. The only other thing Alain Vineault can do is get his top players in position to score goals. Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards, Derek Brassard, and the man with the hot hand Carl Hagelin all have to contribute more on the offensive side of the ice. Depth is a strength of the New York Rangers but if Rick Nash and Chris Kreider aren’t engaged offensively. The Los Angeles Kings can use whatever matchups benefit them. The penalty kill has been good but the power play needs to execute more consistently if this is going to be a series. It’s been twenty years of dark times for this New York Rangers franchise. It would be a waste to let it go by the wayside.