Elliotte Friedman writes an excellent weekly article titled '30 thoughts' in which he drops tidbits, quotes, and thoughts from across the NHL. It's a must read article for any hockey fan, and also the inspiration for this article about game two of the Stanley Cup Finals. See, rather than examining one aspect of the game, let's take a look at every angle in only 15 thoughts.
1. The series is not over by any means, but games three and four are as close to must-win as the Rangers have come this post-season. That includes all three elimination games against the Penguins and game seven vs. the Flyers. The home team is supposed to win home games, so the Rangers would be best off looking at it as two home games to take care of business, then a best of three series.
2. While many are arguing that the Rangers beat the Penguins after falling behind in the series 3-1, New York is a better team than Pittsburgh. At best the Rangers are equals to Los Angeles, and equals don't usually result in one team winning three in a row. It would not be impossible by any means, but coming back against the Kings is nothing like coming back against the Penguins.
3. On the goalie interference call, I originally was as irate as most Rangers fans were, but now I have a different outlook. Certainly it was the wrong call on the play, but it's not as simple as many believed. With Ryan McDonagh draped over Dwight King, it was a matter of positioning in a split second. The refs should have been able to make the correct call, but given the difficulty of it, they should have had replay to bail them out. That replay isn't available on interference plays is a complete joke, and something that the NHL needs to remedy this off-season.
4. The non-call on the potential delay of game before the Kings 2OT goal was a different story, as that's a call I actually agree with. The puck changed directions a bit in the air, which would not happen without some sort of a deflection. Add how adamant the referee was that it hit the glass and it's tough to make a compelling argument against the call.
5. Great teams come back after calls that don't go their way and still win. Great teams don't blow two goal leads in back to back games. The Rangers were not a great team for games one and two, and it takes a great team to defeat the Kings. Two games at home coming up to prove the Rangers are a great team.
6. In game two the top line, Mats Zuccarello, the fourth line, and Anton Stralman were noticeably solid all game. Speaking to my last point, it takes more than a handful of players playing their best to win a game in the Cup Finals. The team as a whole needs to step it up.
7. Brad Richards. I could write a series of articles about how terrible Brad Richards has been in this series. Every time I have located Brad Richards on the ice he was flailing desperately at the puck or at a player speeding by him. The Kings had multiple scoring chances thanks to Brad Richards failing to keep the puck in and falling down, or making a terrible turnover. If there was any doubt before this series that Brad Richards is going to be bought out, you can forget about it. I'd rather pay $6M+ not to have Richards on the roster if he's going to play like that.
8. It won't happen, but the powerplay can be improved drastically by getting Richards off of the point. The amount of times the Rangers-a team that has trouble gaining the zone-have had to reset because Richards couldn't keep the puck in is absurd. The Kings also have nearly scored shorthanded because Richards misread the situation.
9. I would say to bench Richards, but that's not happening. Even considering the option is silly, as the next best player is Jesper Fast or J.T. Miller, two young players that are prone to just as many mistakes as Richards is. The best idea is to hope Richards figures it out.
10. So when Brad Richards leaves this off-season, who gets his letter? Note that after Dan Girardi's turnover in game one leading up to Justin Williams' overtime goal, Ryan McDonagh cited his own gaffe in game two vs. Washington as an example of how everyone makes mistakes. At this point I'd be surprised if the letters aren't
C- Ryan McDonagh
A- Dan Girardi
A- Marc Staal
11. I'd like to see Rick Nash and/or Chris Kreider in front of the net more. Offense hasn't been an issue for the Rangers, but every goal is huge against the Kings given how close this series is, and the Rangers haven't given Quick all he could handle still.
12. Speaking of which, there's another argument why this series isn't even close to over. Henrik Lundqvist hasn't played up to his potential at all yet, and the Rangers have found some flaws in Jonathan Quick's game. There's always the possibility Quick is due for improvement as well, but if Lundqvist can step it up and the Rangers can keep firing, maybe the Rangers can pull away rather than letting the Kings hang around.
13. If this series continues the way it has been going, third periods will be the death of the 2013-2014 New York Rangers. This is especially disappointing considering the Rangers were 28-1-2 when leading after two periods in the regular season and going into last night were 10-0-0 in the post-season in the same situation. New York has been a terrific third period team when leading or tied all season, yet in the first two games of this series they have been demolished by Los Angeles. The back-breaking loss vs. the Boston Bruins last post-season was when the Rangers were up 1-0 going into the third in game 3 in New York, only to give up two goals in the third and fall behind in the series 3-0. Let's hope the Blueshirts can play a full sixty minutes on Monday.
14. Going forward, the Rangers should recognize that they have never trailed in a game in this series, and that's not a minor note. New York can play even if not better hockey than the Kings, but they have just failed to finish. With all the talk about how the Kings were a vastly superior team , I'd say the first two games have dispelled that theory.
15. Last thought is that this is the Stanley Cup Finals and the Rangers have been a goal away in two games from being up 2-0. Crazy things have happened and likely will continue to happen, so as a fan I'm just watching and hoping the Rangers can pull it off and bring the cup back to NY. At the same time, getting to the Cup is so difficult that I am trying to enjoy every minute the Rangers are here, despite how stressful the games are. Let's Go Rangers!