Two excuses the New York Rangers are out of time for
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers have waited 20-years for the Stanley Cup to make it’s way back to New York City, but having it skated around the ice at Madison Square Garden by the Los Angeles Kings is not exactly how they imagined it would make it’s reappearance.
Tonight though, when the two teams clash for the fourth and what could be the final game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final though, that’s exactly what could happen.
A series of reasons-better known as excuses- as to why the Rangers are in a 3-0 hole against the Kings heading into tonight’s game will have to be forgotten, because they don’t have time for them anymore. Anything that the Blueshirts have blamed for their first three losses, be it bad luck, a blown call or effort so good that it doesn’t produce, are no longer affordable.
It’s win or go home. And as Doc Emrick has said many times as an NHL broadcaster, it doesn’t matter how the team scores, it just matters how many times they do.
Here are two things the Rangers are out of time to dismiss:
Henrik Lundqvist and the case of puck luck:
If we each got a dollar every time Henrik Lundqvist mentioned the word ‘luck’ this week, we would have enough money to buy tickets for Game 4 on TiqIQ.
The long-time Rangers goalie spoke to the media again yesterday after the teams practice and once again chalked up the 3-0 series, and a 3-0 loss on Monday night, to luck.
The Kings are lucky. The Rangers are not. And that is how the Kings have themselves in the position to sweep the Rangers out of the final and earn their second Stanley Cup since 2012.
“You earn it [luck]. You always say you earn your luck by working hard and making good decisions.” Lundqvist said on Tuesday.
“I look at all the goals obviously yesterday, and it’s some skill, yeah, but there’s some luck, too.”
Perhaps Lundqvist is right. The Kings have scored a few goals that have bounced off a skate here, a deflection there, but they are creating those opportunities and the Rangers have done nothing to stop it. He said it himself, luck is created.
Prior to his discovering of the word luck, it was one blown call that caused the Rangers to lose Game 2. It wasn’t their inability to shut down the Kings defensively after gaining an early two-goal lead, or their inept power play that hasn’t been producing enough. No way. It was the lack of effort by the officials to do their job correctly, which is funny considering you could point to more than a few players on the Rangers bench that haven’t done a diligent job themselves this series.
It’s actually easier to sum up the funk the Rangers are in than they have made it seem: Lundqvist has lacked the big-time saves against the Kings that his team has needed and that Jonathan Quick made in Game 3 when his team was being outshot, 32-15.
I guess that’s the difference between being a King, and being a ‘King’.
Rick Nash and his production less effort:
It’s almost impossible to make excuses for a player with a 6’4 frame that makes $7.8 million and no points in the Stanley Cup Final, yet Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has managed to do just that. The fans however, won’t be as soft on him if the Rangers can’t fight their way back into this series.
“I liked his effort,” Vigneault said of Nash in Game 3. “He battled real hard like he’s done through the playoffs for us.”
It’s easy to coast through the playoffs like Nash has done, collecting just three goals in 23 postseason games when your team is winning. But lack of production stands out when the whole team is struggling.
“I can’t be satisfied when we’re losing,” Nash said. “Right now, chances aren’t enough. They’ve got to be going in, we’ve got help the team win.”
Sure, he leads the league with 80 shots and he’s doing things right in the Rangers zone. But three goals all postseason on a rookie goaltender that was forced into making his NHL playoff debut because of an injury to Carey Price is simply unacceptable.
If the Rangers want everyone else to believe they are capable of getting into the drivers seat and turning this series around, they need to start with having their top players score.