Rangers Look To Rebound
Having allowed Game 1 to get away from them, the New York Rangers will look to shore things up and earn a series-levelling win as they meet the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday.
Opening face-off at Staples Center is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Playing in their first finals series in 20 years, the Rangers began Wednesday’s opener with gusto aplomb. First period goals from Benoit Pouliot and Carl Hagelin, the latter of whom scored shorthanded, quickly gave the Blueshirts a lead that should have been comfortable.
But if we’ve learned anything from this year’s remarkable postseason, it’s that no lead is truly comfortable.
The Kings retaliated with a goal late in the first to cut the lead in half before equalizing early in the second period. From there it became more of the sort of game you might expect of the Stanley Cup finals.
The two teams battled for the next 33 minutes without leveraging any kind of separation. The Kings threw hits and shots in almost equal measure, out-hitting their opponents to the tune of 45-33 while throwing a gargantuan 43 shots at Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers meanwhile mustered 27 shots of their own.
Lundqvist was a big part of the Rangers managing to stay in the game, something that had to be expected before the series, but nevertheless something that head coach Alain Vigneault and his players had to be happy with.
With neither team breaking the deadlock, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals became the 22nd game of this postseason to go to overtime.
The deciding moment came when Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi turned the puck over allowing Justin Williams to beat Lundqvist, register his eighth goal of these playoffs and give the Kings a 3-2 victory to take an early lead in the series.
Now the Kings will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series, while the Rangers will look to knot this one up before returning to New York City for Games 3 and 4.
The Rangers have been rallying around Girardi after his costly mistake in Game 1, trying not to dwell on the mishap and instead focusing on what needs to be done to turn things around.
One thing that seems certain, the Rangers need to apply some defensive pressure on the Kings. The team simply can’t continue to allow 40 shots in a game and expect to come out on top, regardless of how good Lundqvist is.
Some Rangers are suggesting that the best way to contend with the Kings’ speed is to quicken their own game and see if that forces the Kings into some mistakes. Speed could also be the answer for keeping the puck out of their defensive end, something Lundqvist would surely be happy about.
Yet, the Rangers face a huge obstacle regardless of the approach they take moving forward. The Kings were not at their best on Wednesday, and yet still came away with the victory. Even 18 giveaways, compared to the Rangers’ 10, didn’t prove massively costly, and the team still has plenty to show the Blueshirts.
They also have Jonathan Quick, a goaltender that continues to prove his worth on a nightly basis. Quick put paid to 25 of the 27 shots he faced in Game 1 and practically had the third period off as he faced just three shots. Bar those early goals, he was essentially flawless.
The Kings have made a habit of come-from-behind wins this postseason, so on Saturday the Rangers must find a way to get ahead and stay ahead. If everything that has come before gives us any kind of marker to go on, the side from Manhattan is certainly capable of that.
With the series sticking in the City of Angels for this weekend, Los Angeles (-149) once again opened as the favorite over New York (+135) on the moneyline. The line itself has remained fairly steady since opening.
The Kings’ victory in Game 1 marked the first time this season that the home team has won a game between the two sides. It moved the Kings to 6-4 at home this postseason, while the Rangers fell to 6-5 on the road.
Historically speaking, neither side has been lights out in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers are 5-5 in their 10 appearances while, with a much smaller sample size, the Kings are 1-1.
The Kings have won four of their last six games against the Rangers at Staples Center.
The over/under sits at 5.
Wednesday’s series opener saw the game finish with a push, the sixth time (in 21 games) during a Rangers game this post season. It also snapped a run of six Kings games which saw the total go over.
The under was favored in Game 1 and will be again in Game 2. Four of the last six meetings between the two sides in Los Angeles have finished the under paying out.
But all postseason we’ve been expecting defense to finally shine through, and yet we continue to watch high scoring games.
The Kings haven’t scored fewer than three goals since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals while the Rangers have scored three or more in six of their last 10. The over then represents a solid bet.
Game 3 will see the Stanley Cup Finals switch to Manhattan and Madison Square Garden, with the Rangers hosting the Kings on Monday. Opening face-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.
For a selection of NHL team prop bets, click here.
For a selection of NHL player prop bets, click here.