At the berth of an 82-game regular season spawns 30 teams who battle it out in blood, sweat, and tears for the Stanley Cup. After those 82 are up, 16 teams are put into a playoff and they play through four best-of-seven series’ hoping to raise the hardware.
This year, it was the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers. It was a great series played by both teams, and it really could have gone either way, with puck luck playing a major factor. With the Rangers dropping the first three games however, things looked pretty bleak, and it all came to fruition tonight.
They say hockey is a game of inches, some players hate hearing that, but it is in fact the truth. Tonight, that phrase rang through the heads of many at multiple points in the game.
Justin Williams, who has been a clutch player ever since he arrived in LA, got things going and got the crowd into it in the first period after he cashed in on a mad scramble in front of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
In the second period, with about five minutes to play, Chris Kreider tied things up on the powerplay off a beautiful feed from Ryan McDonagh. Minutes later, Brian Boyle gave his team the lead after a great shorthanded effort by Carl Hagelin, making the game 2-1 heading into the third.
Things were unfolding quite well for New York, but it all fell apart in the third, as they once again sat back in the third period and tried to preserve their lead while applying very little pressure. You just can’t do that against a team like the Kings, because with the strength and skill they have up and down their lineup, they will make you pay for what you do, and that is exactly what happened tonight.
Former Ranger Marian Gaborik tied the game at 2 on his team’s powerplay and once again LA had life and they ran with that momentum for the rest of the period, outshooting the Rangers 12-3 in the process.
In the two overtimes that were played, a total of four posts were hit, two by each team. The most important coming from McDonagh, who found himself with some space and rocketed one dead off the iron. He nearly sent this series to a sixth game but alas, the attempt went squandered.
Alec Martinez was the man who finished things off, picking up a rebound left by Lundqvist, who just seemed out of gas at that point. The crowd went nuts, and the Kings won their second Cup in three years, hats off to them.
After the winning goal, Henrik sat there in disappointment, and when teammates came to comfort him, he denied them, and remained there in his lonesome. He was the last person to join the handshake line, but he paid his respects to his opponents who beat him fair and square. It must hurt for a goaltender who has waited so long to get to this level, and have it fall right at his fingertips.
While the fans and players of LA will party into the night, and the parade will be planned, Rangers fans and the organization will sit back and try to think where it all went wrong.
Regardless of the result, New York had a great season, and if you told anybody that they would make it to the Final, they would call you crazy. After the dark ages of the early 2000’s, this hockey club has made great strides in becoming a lethal force in this league, and as of right now, they are the best team in the Eastern Conference after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in six games.
We now have the summer to mull things over before training camp starts back up again in 91 days, but who’s counting?
Some will leave, others will stay, but those decisions will be left up to general manager Glen Sather, who has his work cut out for him.
Try to get some rest, try not to think about the loss, and just think about the positives that we as fans can take from this season.
Stick with FullTilt Rangers this off-season as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers. Be with us all through the draft and free agency as well! Thank you for the support!