2014 Stanley Cup Final Rangers Vs. Kings: Never Say Die Part One

Paul Bereswill

Notes from the Rangers win over the Kings in Game 4.

- I would never recommend it to anyone, but there is something kind of cool about watching your favorite team wipe the blood from their eyes and keep fighting with both heels on the edge of the cliff. It's almost like a last stand. Again, if you can avoid the situation do it at all costs. But there was a very cool sense of pride watching the New York Rangers fight for their lives last night. It's sort of a cool (terrifying) atmosphere from the crowd, too, because every game is like a Game 7 overtime.

- There have been some questions about Henrik Lundqvist I have taken exception to this series. I don't see how he cam be blamed for much, even though the Rangers have blown three separate two-goal leads in this series. I will not rehash those memories here, but Lundqvist was exceptional Wednesday night. 40 total saves, 15 in the third period. A few of them jaw dropping. What an effort. He stole that one. He's stolen quite a few this year.

- And while Lundqvist should get 90% of the credit, Lady Luck smiled on the Rangers last night. In two different instances the puck cruised towards the goal line only to stop last minute. The first time Anton Stralman saved the day with a brilliant piece of defensive work. The second time, Derek Stepan made another one of those heady plays everyone likes to ignore and swatted (but did not close his hand around) the puck to clear it away. If you need to be reminded, closing your hand around the puck in the crease is a penalty shot.

- It's intoxicating when Lady Luck smiles on your team, isn't it? The breaks were well deserved, but sometimes you don't get them anyway. The Rangers needed them in Game 4, they really did.

- For 40 minutes I loved the Rangers game. I thought they forechecked well, were physical with the Kings, got pucks (and bodies) in front of the net and broke out of their own zone well. Something this team has done this year a few times is sort of sit back in the third period. I think some of it is because they know Lundqvist is in the net and they think they can be more defensive. They can't play like that again in Game 5. They can't. And while the first 40 minutes were good, it takes 60 minutes to win a hockey game. In the Stanley Cup Final it might take more.

- Benoit Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard were the Rangers' best forwards all night. Zuccarello was hitting everything in sight, churning behind the net and just making things happen. I loved Stepan's game, and thought Rick Nash and Chris Kreider were good in spots and just OK in others. The fourth line was pretty good, overall, and Brad Richards looked fine on the fourth line.

- We've talked a lot about how the Rangers best players need to be their best players in order to win these games. Martin St. Louis scored a huge goal (which ended up being the game-winning goal) and was all over the ice. Those things are important, especially when you're in a do-or-die situation.

- Ryan McDonagh and Stralman were fantastic, I thought. Marc Staal was good, too. John Moore had his moments of brilliance and his moments of terror in the defensive zone. Kevin Klein has always been a steady presence, and has even started jumping into the play on offense a little. I called him a "set and forget defenseman" during the regular season. He really is.

- Which brings us to Dan Girardi. Ho boy. No fault to him for (another) broken stick that lead to (another) huge goal that turned the game and nearly turned the series. There's nothing he can do there without hauling Dustin Brown down and giving up a penalty shot. But he was really fighting the puck at times. Jeff Carter owned him twice, bursting around him on the outside and taking the puck right to the net. He made a few dumb decisions with the puck that turned into quality chances for the Kings. It was not good.

- Despite all that, he made three brilliant plays with two minutes left in the game which helped preserve the win. This hasn't exactly been a great (or even good) series for him, but I liked seeing him fight back in a big moment.

- Lundqvist said after the game that it "made him sick" to think about the Kings hoisting The Cup on The Garden's ice. I like that. I also like that he was thinking about one thing and one thing only: Winning Game 4. The Rangers did that. The first step is always the hardest. Believe it or not, the pressure is shifting back to Los Angeles now. They really, really don't want to lose Game 5. They do not want to have to come back to New York, in that building for a Game 6. They don't. Go steal one. Then go from there.

- The motto now? Go steal a road game. Do whatever it takes to bring this series back to New York for Game 6.

Thoughts?

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