Well, the New York Rangers haven’t been eliminated just yet.
Down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals, New York was able to prevent the Los Angeles Kings from completing the sweep, winning Game 4 by the score of 2-1. They grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second period, but instead of losing it as they did with every other two-goal lead they’ve had this series, the Rangers were able to hold off the Kings and give New York fans at least one Cup Finals victory.
However, it wasn’t exactly a huge, confidence booster of a victory for the Rangers. You got the feeling that they didn’t so much beat L.A. as they just avoided losing to them. And every single player in New York’s locker room owes their goalie a beer.
Henrik Lundqvist was given a tall order tonight, as he ended up facing 41 Kings shots. In the meantime, the Rangers only mustered up 19 shots on net. They were outshot 15-1 in the third period. If it wasn’t for Lundqvist, New York could very well be watching Los Angeles hoist the Cup right now.
Now, instead of being swept out of the Finals, the Rangers have grabbed a small bit of life in a series they were all but out of coming into tonight. But, is it the start of a last-ditch run? Or was New York just nice enough to let the Kings celebrate at home Friday night?
If the Rangers want to end up doing more than just delaying the inevitable, they’ll need a much better team effort from here on out. Again, any other goalie in net and this could’ve very well ended differently. New York can’t force Lundqvist to stand on his head for however many more games this series goes on, because you won’t often see a team put up 41 shots and only score one goal.
Meanwhile, even though L.A. came out on the losing end of Game 4, they don’t have to even consider looking at the panic button at the moment. Being up 3-1 is still a great situation, and a return to home ice could be all the Kings need to finish the Rangers off.
At least, they better hope so. Sure, it’s easy to come into Game 5 with the idea that Los Angeles is still looking primed and ready to win the Stanley Cup. But a New York win Friday night definitely shifts the perspective between the two teams.
The Kings are the last team who would dare scoff at the idea of blowing a 3-0 series lead. It wasn’t long ago when they made a historic series comeback of their own, so nobody on that roster should be doubting the Rangers’ chances and shifting into cruise control.
Game 5 is either going to be one of two things. The Kings could leave Friday night as Stanley Cup champions, or they could be on a plane back to Manhattan, wondering if they’ve given their opponent new life.