Coming into the Stanley Cup Finals, a lot of people were of the firm belief that we were about to see a back-and-forth battle between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings. As of tonight, a lot of people are wrong.
After two dramatic overtime wins, the Kings decided there was no need for theatrics in Game 3, convincingly beating New York 3-0. The score of tonight’s game now reflects the series, as L.A. is up 3-0 over the Rangers. What many thought would be an evenly matched contest is now looking like it’s over just three bouts in.
So, coming into Game 4 Wednesday night, you have one team looking like they’ve already won the Cup, and another appearing as though one game full of controversy sealed their fate.
Despite the Kings having a 2-0 series lead coming into tonight, the one aspect of their game that gave New York a chance to hang around was goaltending. However, it appears this is no longer an issue. Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick scoffed at the idea that his poor numbers in net were a concern, and tonight he proved they were nothing to be worried about. The Rangers threw 32 shots at Quick, and he stopped every single one. A leaky netminder had L.A. at least looking human, only now it appears New York has to find a new Achilles heal on their opponent.
If they feel like searching, they better do it as fast as possible. Their Cup dreams seemed realistic just under a week ago. Now? New York needs to win four straight to achieve these aspirations, and they hardly look capable of the task at hand.
After dealing with some debatable non-calls in Game 2, the Rangers took the ice tonight desperately needing a victory. Instead, they appear to have had whatever wind left in their sails completely taken out. While they watched Quick display his best impression of a brick wall on one end of the ice, they also saw the one man capable of keeping them in the series appear as though he has nothing left.
New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, seen by many as the Rangers’ saving grace against the dangerous Kings, gave up three goals on a measly 15 shots tonight. If falling into a 3-0 hole was bad, doing so while the best goaltender in the world posted a save percentage of .800 had to make the nightmare worse than ever.
Saying Game 4 is a must-win for New York is on par with saying the sky is blue. However, after tonight you have to wonder if the Rangers have anything left in the tank. They need to win out, and many New York fans left Game 3 wondering if their team even has the capability to win a period any more. More concerning for the Rangers is the fact that said fans left about midway through the second period tonight.
Game 4 is looking less like a last chance for New York and more like a formality. The Rangers need to scrape together whatever moxie they have left. They’ve rallied before this postseason, but not from a hole this deep. There’s no choice left now, though. Either New York starts putting together a last ditch effort, or they’ll make their fans endure the sight of the Kings hoisting the Cup on Madison Square Garden ice.
Best of luck, Rangers.