In our Game 4 preview, we broke down a lot of the key statistics that the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers had produced during the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. Therefore, we’d like to keep things very simple for our Game 5 preview: the Kings DOMINATED the Rangers in Game 4, but Henrik Lundqvist was strong in goal, the Rangers got a few lucky breaks, and now the Kings need to finish the job at home. Is there really anything else to say?
Jun 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; The puck stops on the goal line behind New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) and center Derek Stepan (21) during the third period in game four of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
The Kings out-shot the Rangers 15-1 in the third period, and after Dustin Brown scored the Kings’ lone goal in the second period on a breakaway with a gorgeous move to fake out Lundqvist, the Kings out-shot the Rangers 24-2 at even strength. Forget about the statistics for a moment–you could just tell from watching the Kings that, after Brown’s goal, they could feel the Stanley Cup within their grasp and were determined to win the game.
Jun 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman (6) clears the puck from off the goal line away from goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) and Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) during the first period in game four of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, hard work and determination don’t always necessarily mean success in any one particular game, but if the Kings start the first period of Game 5 the way they finished Game 4, it’s really hard to believe that the Rangers would stand much of a chance. Looking at the ‘net cam’ photos to the right and left, you can see just how close the Kings were to winning the Cup in New York on Wednesday night. In nearly 23 years of watching the Kings, I can tell you that I cannot remember EVER seeing a puck just sitting on the goal line TWICE in one game for the same team–with neither puck getting over the line. So I’d say, ‘it happens’…except that it doesn’t, so how about a more generic, ‘it is what it is’?
Anyhow, the Kings were all business in Game 4, and expect them to be all business in Game 5. The only way the Kings can mess this up and find themselves back in New York for Game 6 is if they sleep-walk through the first period and a half–like they’ve done a dozen or so times during the playoffs–get behind 1-0 or 2-0, then can’t seem to get enough breaks to overcome ‘King Henrik’ in net. I know, it’s quite possible. I was at Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 when the Kings blew the New Jersey Devils out of Staples Center, and I still wonder if the result of the game would have been the same had it not been for the five-minute power play they had in the first period–during which they scored THREE goals. Point being that, it’s not always about being good–there are times when all you need is a lucky break or two. For the Kings’ sake, I hope that luck is on their side tonight.