Three games into the Stanley Cup Final, I think it’s a great time to take a look back at the keys to the series in our preview article. We told you that puck possession (and specifically, shot conversion), rugged play, and the Los Angeles Kings’ power play, would be the biggest keys to the series. We also singled out Martin St. Louis as the New York Rangers’ ‘x factor’, and Jonathan Quick as the Kings’ ‘x factor’. Let’s take a closer look at each point.
We told you that the Kings AND Rangers were excellent puck possession teams during the regular season, but had only been average during the playoffs. Not surprisingly, during this series, both teams have continued to produce very similar puck possession statistics.
When the teams have skated at even strength, the Rangers have had a 50.2% Corsi for percentage and a 47.9% Fenwick for percentage, while the Kings have had a 49.8% Corsi for percentage and 52.1% Fenwick for percentage. Again, these statistics, courtesy of ExtraSkater.com, show that the Kings AND the Rangers have shared close to even possession of the puck, as well as taken a similar amount of shots.
However, we also told you that THE biggest difference between the two teams during the playoffs (entering the Stanley Cup Final), was that the Kings had converted 11.3% of their 645 shots (second among playoff teams), while the Rangers had only converted 9.2% of their 587 shots (eighth among playoff teams). So what have the teams done during this series? The Kings have converted 10.8% of their shots, while the Rangers have only converted 6.2% of theirs. That is a huge difference.
While the Kings’ power play had been exceptional during the playoffs, leading up to the Stanley Cup Final, with a 25.4% conversion rate, the Kings have only converted 2 of 12 power play opportunities in this series. The Rangers, on the other hand, have continued to be less than mediocre on the power play. They had only converted 13.6% of their power play opportunities leading up to this series. Not surprisingly, they’ve only converted 1 of 14 opportunities in the Stanley Cup Final.
We believed that the biggest key would be the Rangers’ ability (or inability) to stay out of the box, and limit the Kings power play opportunities. While they have done a good job limiting penalties and limiting power play conversion, the Rangers’ own power play has been entirely useless to them. In fact, entering this series, the Rangers had only converted 3 of 38 power play opportunities at home during the playoffs. They were 0 of 6 in Game 3. That’s 3 for 44–a paltry 6.8% conversion rate. Ouch!
Let’s first get the Rangers out of the way–
we I really thought that Martin St. Louis would have to be the Rangers’ ‘x factor’/catalyst in order for them to have a chance to win this series. Well, he hasn’t done anything, and the Kings are up 3-0. So I get credit for that, right? Anyhow, he’s had 1 goal, 0 assists, and a -4 plus/minus rating in three games. ‘X Factor’ neutralized.
On the other hand,
we I fully believed that Jonathan Quick would be the deciding factor in this series for the Kings, and after his virtuoso Game 3 performance, it’s really hard to argue against that point. It’s not just about Game 3, though–Quick has now shut the Rangers out for the past 115 minutes of play. Overall, his goals against average this series is 1.68 (compared to Henrik Lundqvist‘s 3.13), and his save percentage is .938 (compared to Lundqvist’s .892). I know Lundqvist has had some unfortunate bounces, but I thought he was the ‘King’, no?
I’m just as superstitious as the next hockey fan, so I’m not going to make any predictions for Game 4, but I will say this: if Jonathan Quick keeps making RIDICULOUS saves like these (see the video clips below), then I feel pretty good about the Kings’ chances.