Got a lot of good stuff up on lohud.com, including Josh Thomson’s story about the Keeper of the Cup and tales of Stanley. Click here to see that.
And Sam Rosen’s diary, in which he says Game 3 is the pivotal game in the series. Click here to see that.
I hope to put up both of them as separate posts at some point today. And maybe a last-minute Live Chat around noon … not promising, but hopeful.
Then there’s a fairly important game …
Here’s my column from The Journal News and lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
LOS ANGELES – Madison Square Garden, which hasn’t been an advantage for the home team all season, is going to have to be that now.
Brad Richards, after the Rangers’ excruciating 5-4, double-overtime loss in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final — a loss in which the Rangers led 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 entering the third period — said it so matter-of-factly.
“We have to win our home games and it’s a best-of-three,” he said.
Sounds good. Except these aren’t the Philadelphia Flyers or even the distracted Pittsburgh Penguins, and certainly not the whiny Montreal Canadiens.
These are the crash-tested Los Angeles Kings, the 2012 Stanley Cup champions who beat three Western dragons, all of them in Game 7s on the road, to get here. This L.A. team is loaded, hefty and determined. It also is never, ever out of a game or a series.
Through two games, the Rangers have at times been just as good in a very different way, and they haven’t been backed down a bit by the Kings’ physicality. In fact, through a lot of Game 2, the Rangers doled it out — especially Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh — as much as they took it.
Through two games, heavily favored Los Angeles has not led during the course of play — not once, not for a moment. Yet the Kings are up 2-0, and teams that have won twice at home to go up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final have won 32 of 35 series, though two of the three that didn’t win occurred in the last five years.
The Rangers had legitimate complaints about the goal that turned around Game 2, when Dwight King prevented Henrik Lundqvist from moving to his right to make a save, and got away without a goaltender-interference penalty. At the very least, it should have been one of those incidental-contact plays and the goal should have been disallowed.
Lundqvist railed loud and long on the ice, and in more quiet tones in the locker room, saying that the referees “have to be better.”
He said referee Dan O’Halloran told him, unbelievably, that the puck was already past Lundqvist when King made contact, which isn’t even close to accurate.
“That’s a wrist shot I’m just going to reach out for,” Lundqvist said, “and I can’t move. It’s a different game after that. Such an important play of the game.
“After that, it’s a different game. … They need to blow the whistle. The goalie can’t move when you have a guy like that on top of you. It’s such an important play of the game, and I don’t buy the explanation.”
We have seen this call made, or not made, so many different ways all season. We have seen goals and non-goals wiped out and allowed. We have not figured out, any of us, what qualifies as a goal or as interference any longer. Benoit Pouliot, on a play that wasn’t nearly as egregious, got a penalty earlier in the same game.
We have hoped not, but wondered, all season if one of these goal/no-goal, interference/non-interference calls or non-calls might cost some team a Stanley Cup. And maybe that one eventually does.
The Rangers were warned by coach Alain Vigneault that they needed to bring their ” ‘A’ game” against Los Angeles. They were hardly perfect in Game 2, but the ” ‘A’ games” were present and accounted for almost across the board.
Problem is, in addition to the non-call on King, Los Angeles is on this unprecedented roll. The Kings have come from two goals or more behind in five of their last eight games — including a record three in a row, all of them overtime wins.
This is a special team doing special things, doing them to a Rangers team that could easily be 1-1 or up 2-0 in the series.
But it’s down 0-2. And needs to chip away right away. At home, of all places.
(Awesome) Illustration by Chris Brown/The Journal News/Lohud.com.
VIGNEAULT: IT’S A “GOT-TO WIN: GAME
By Josh Thomson
When asked Sunday afternoon what the Rangers needed to get back in the series, Alain Vigneault kept it simple.
“We’ve got to win tomorrow,” the coach said.
The Rangers return to New York after losing the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final in overtime. They never trailed in either game until the final shot, a fact players have pinned their hopes on.
“I think our confidence is still there,” center Derick Brassard said. “I think if we keep playing the same way, we have a great chance to win. It’s a far way to be over. We came back from 1-3 against Pittsburgh. We proved to ourselves that we can come back against some really good teams.”
Of course, so have the Kings, who are the only team in Stanley Cup Final history to win the first two games of a series despite not holding a lead in regulation in either game. Their overtime magic has left the Rangers embracing the obvious.
“(This) is about as close as a ‘must’ game as I think you can have,” Vigneault said. “Until you face elimination, that’s as close as we can get.”
Gaborik to grace Garden: Marian Gaborik, who leads all players with 13 goals this postseason, will return to the Garden for the first time since the Rangers traded him to Columbus in April 2013.
“Yeah, that gives you extra jump,” said Gaborik, who is two goals shy of matching Wayne Gretzky’s club record for most goals scored in a single postseason.
Ice chips: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, a Milford, Connecticut, native, will make his Garden debut.