The Los Angeles Kings have taken a 3-0 series lead over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals, and that’s bad news for the Blueshirts.
Since 1982, nine teams have lost the first three games of the finals but only the 2012 New Jersey Devils have managed to avoid the sweep, and that was also against the Kings. Just one team, The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, managed to complete the comeback and win in the finals after falling behind three games to none.
“You try to stay positive right now, but it’s tough. It’s really tough,” Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist said. “I think we’re doing a lot of good things, but when you look at the goals, you know, we put two in our net and just a tough play on the third one. At some point you’re going to have to need some puck luck and we don’t have any right now. It feels like they have all of it.”
The Kings have all of it because they are making adjustments. For example, in Game 2 the Kings were content to fire away from the point, generating very few chances within the scoring chance area – loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots.
Lundqvist had two goals against close to the crease (Dwight King’s tip in and Marian Gaborik’s wrister from 12 feet away) but yielded one near the top of the faceoff circle (Jarret Stoll) and two that originated from over 55 feet away near the blue line (Willie Mitchell’s power-play tally in the second period and Dustn Brown’s double overtime winner). Those long distance shots generally carry low percentages of success, with one out of every 23 lighting the lamp.
In Game 3, the Kings made an effort to occupy the slot, the area in front of the crease and between the edges of the faceoff circles. For example, here is Jeff Carter with a shot from the low slot.
Score effects came into play and kept the shot total low for Los Angeles, but the Kings took six of their 15 shots on the night from the slot and scored on two of them. Look for more of the same in Game 4 as the Kings look to complete the sweep.