2014 Stanley Cup Final Rangers Vs. Kings: Well That Could Have Gone Better

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Notes from the Rangers loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

- The minute Justin Williams buried his golden opportunity in overtime to give the Kings Game One of the Stanley Cup Final the first thought that came to my head was, "Did we ever give that game away. Yikes."

- And not to take anything away from the Kings, who dominated the entire third period (the 20 to three shot differential was the greatest in Stanley Cup history) and were flying through most of the overtime, but the Rangers did last night to themselves. Derek Stepan makes an unforced, absolutely inexcusable turnover in offensive zone to give the Kings their first goal of the game and some life. Then in overtime Dan Girardi has the puck hop over his stick (the ice was bad all night), loses and edge, turns the puck over on one knee and then the Rangers lose the game. The Rangers make countless mistakes in the offensive zone. Countless.

- For what it's worth, I don't blame Girardi totally for the game-winning goal. He had a really bad night, but in that situation all four of his linemates left the zone for a rush the other way -- assuming he would eat the puck -- didn't expect the bad bounce and left him all alone. Again, he was fighting the puck all night, but I will not give him 100% blame for the overtime goal.

- Henrik Lundqvist was incredible all night. And you really had the feeling in the third period that the Rangers might steal the game if they could just muster up some offense. He made save after save and had no chance on the game-winning goal. He might want to have the Drew Doughty goal back, but whatever, that was a crazy-good move. He had no support, either. The Rangers had two third period shots before Carl Hagelin's breakaway with less than a minute left. Two. That's not good at all.

- Lump that in with a myriad of missed chances. How many times did the Rangers pass the puck away with golden opportunities to shoot? Six? Seven? Closer to 10? Martin St. Louis tries to pass the puck to an unaware Dominic Moore on a three-on-two in the first period when a shot probably would have lit the lamp. A few minutes later, the Kings strike to make the game 2-1. The difference between 3-0 and 2-1 there is obviously massive. Through the third, even with no shots the first 12 minutes, the Rangers were gun shy. Stepan made a bad decision on an odd man rush, then Rick Nash got caught on a three-on-one and turned the puck over. Countless opportunities to shoot were turned down for bad, low-percentage passes. Bad. Yucky. Gross. Whatever. Pick an adjective. It was ugly.

- I thought Jonathan Quick was good, but my word is he unorthodox. Watching him Wednesday reminded me how nervous he made me during the Olympics, which is a good thing. The Rangers had chances off some rebounds you probably wouldn't get with a more traditional goalie. And while he was good, I think the Rangers cost themselves some opportunities to get some pucks past him.

- Speaking of rough nights, I'm not sure how many Rangers had a good game. Lundqvist had the best game of everyone on the ice, then I would say Ryan McDonagh was the next best Ranger. I thought Nash was really good, and had a bunch of chances despite the third period three-on-once incident, so I would put him next along with Hagelin. Anton Stralman was solid. Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello had their moments (although both were to blame for the overtime goal). The fourth line was great in the first period and then invisible the rest of the way. Everyone else? Nope.

- Some of that I'll chalk up to nerves. You simply cannot practice for a Stanley Cup Final game and atmosphere, you can't. And the experience the other bench has is invaluable in a situation like that. Especially in the third and even more so in overtime. The hope is the Rangers got those jitters out of the way on Wednesday. Leave them with Game One and never look back. And you have to play that way, because you simply don't have time to do anything else.

- Raphael Diaz probably saw his last playoff game of the year, barring an injury. He was bad. To the point where Alain Vigneault benched him and double shifted McDonagh, until he realized McDonagh was getting tired and went to Diaz again because he needed the rest. John Moore returns for Game Two, I'd bet my life savings on it.

- When the Rangers were at their best I thought they were forechecking, using their speed and pressuring the Kings. The Pouliot goal came from pressing Doughty at the blue line. The Hagelin shorty came from pressuring the Kings at the blue line. The Rangers' other best chances came from their work behind the Kings' net and in the corners. You need to fight and grind with this team. The Kings are ridiculously talented, they can score at any minute. You need to make them pay when they make mistakes, and you need to limit your own errors while you're doing it. But you cannot sit back the way the Rangers did in the third period. You can't. If you do, you will get run over. And the Rangers did in Game One.

- After the game I went through the typical stages of grief. Anger. Frustration. No sleep (I get this from my father, I punish myself by not letting myself sleep. It's not intentional at all, trust me, I want to sleep, I just can't). Then hope and optimism. Although that will not stop me from feeling like this for awhile. The talking heads will talk about how the West is so much better and how this is step one to the vaporization of the Rangers. Ignore it. Don't let it bother you. Narratives sell papers and get people to click links.

- Here's the bad news: The Rangers cost themselves Game One. Now you need to win Game 2.

- Here's the good news: The Rangers usually bounce back from games like that with really good games the next day. And for as bad as the Rangers played in the final 30 minutes of that game (including OT) they lost in overtime. They could have easily won the game. You regroup and you move on. I can't imagine the Rangers playing like that again. And while it wasn't his fault at all, expect Lundqvist to quietly blame himself and be another monster in Game Two.

Thoughts?

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