The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

How the New York Rangers can even the series against Los Angeles Kings

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

The New York Rangers trail the Los Angeles Kings, 1-0, in the Stanley Cup finals, mostly by taking advantage of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s blocker side.

All three goals were scored on Lundqvist’s blocker side, which matched the scouting report coming into Cup Final.
Los Angeles fired five additional shots mid-blocker, four more hit Lundqvist at the top of the blocker-side pad and one more hit him high on the shoulder on that side. Add in the three goals and that’s 13 shots toward the blocker, compared to six on the glove side.

What the Rangers didn’t do, aside from not put enough shots on net, was storm the crease on Kings netminder Johnathan Quick. Below on the left are the even-strength goals scored against Quick during the 2013-14 regular season. On the right are the even-strength shots taken by Rangers’ skaters in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

That spattering of shots from the less dangerous parts of the ice won’t cut it against Los Angeles. However, the big red blob on Quick’s chart indicates a high concentration of goals scored from the right wing side, and the Rangers have the perfect weapon to take advantage of that: Martin St. Louis.

St. Louis has been one of the Rangers’ best skaters in these playoffs, scoring six goals – including two game-winners – and 13 points in 21 postseason games. Plus, his shot chart is a perfect match for Quick’s soft spot.

“We need to play to our strengths,” Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said. “Let me put it another way: We need to find a way to play to our strengths. They’re probably the best opponent we’ve met. For us to win, we’re going to have to find a way to play to our strengths. Speed is definitely one of them.”

So is letting St. Louis loose on the right side.