Why the New York Rangers lost Game 1 of Stanley Cup finals


(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Stop me if you have heard this one before: The Los Angeles Kings found themselves down by two in the playoffs but ultimately won the game on a Justin Williams goal in overtime. But the win was more of a New York Rangers loss than a Los Angeles victory.

For starters, Rangers blue liner Dan Girardi had an uncharacteristically awful night. The Kings outshot New York 17 to 8 at even strength with their top-pair defensman on the ice, despite seeing 50.6 percent of those shots in their favor during the regular season. Plus, it was Girardi’s whiff of the puck in overtime that allowed Mike Richards to scoop it up and make the pass to Williams, who beat Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winner.

“There’s a handful of guys who raise their game this time of year,” Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said of Williams.” He’s one of them, and we’re lucky to have him. … I want him to be Mr. Game 1, 2, 3 and 4. We need four wins.”

“We found a way to win,” Richards said. “But I think everybody wants to forget about this game. Even though we got the win, it’s not the poster way to win hockey games in the playoffs. Give us credit, we found a way to win. They’re a good team, they played us hard. But we have to be better.”

So do the New York Rangers, who were outshot 20 to 3 in the third period.


Source: ESPN.com

“When you play against such a good opponent that has all that strength, you need to play a full game,” Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said. “For whatever reason we just weren’t good enough in the third.”

All is not lost. The Rangers did managed to generate 12 scoring chances (within area outlined in red) on 27 shots while limiting the Kings to just 16.


Source: ESPN.com

“It’s just one game, not the end of the world,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said.

No, it’s not the end of the world, but it does bring the Blueshirts one step closer. According to WhoWins, when the home team takes a 1-0 lead in the Cup finals they have gone on to win the championship 84.9 percent of the time,and have a 36-17 record in Game 2.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.

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Neil Greenberg · June 5, 2014