Through two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Los Angeles Kings have not led for a single second, taken ill-advised penalties and Jonathan Quick has given up more than a few soft goals. Through it all somehow, someway, the Kings have a 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers. The reason for this isn’t as arbitrary as luck, nor does it need to be summed up with advanced statistics; it is really quite simple: the Kings are just a much better hockey team.
Having said that, the Kings did catch a big break in the form of Dwight King’s third period goal that cut their deficit to one that should have been waived off for goalie interference. Lucky break and all, they were the superior team, especially when they tied the game in the third period. By the time Dustin Brown scored the winner in double-overtime, there had been over two periods of the Kings being the better, hungrier team.
Unlike the Eastern Conference teams the Rangers are used to, the Kings play a tenacious, physical style in all facets of the game for 60 minutes. The Kings’ net-front presence coupled with their pure domination along the boards and in the corners have exposed the Rangers’ weaknesses. In winning the physical battles, the Kings have generated a plethora of scoring chances and especially late in both games have made the Rangers play back on their heels.
The domination and physicality of the Kings also put the Rangers into desperation mode as Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist overtly dove to draw penalties in overtime. When high-end players such as Nash and Lundqvist resort to flopping on the ice in such a pathetic way, the battle, and war for that matter, has already been lost in so many ways.
With the series shifting to the east coast, the Kings will need to continue their gritty, physical play to close out the Rangers on their home ice. After not leading at all in Los Angeles, the Kings should at least attempt to establish an early lead and pummel the Rangers in submission. But with their 2-0 series lead, if it isn’t broke, why fix it?