Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Lundqvist has allowed eight goals across about 155 minutes of hockey, or about 3.1 goals per 60 minutes. That's a lot. Especially for him. A lot of people have said he's being outdueled by Jonathan Quick as a consequence. And, well, yes and no.
On the one hand, when the score of these games is actually close and being played at 5-on-5, as they have been for nearly 105 minutes, Lundqvist's numbers are a ridiculous, and so is any comparison between him and Quick. The Kings have dined out on high shooting percentages in these situations all playoff long: 10.4 percent against the Sharks, 8.5 against the Ducks, 8.9 percent against the Blackhawks. All well above the team's regular-season average of just 6 percent. But in those situations in the Cup Final, Lundqvist has stood tall, allowing just three goals on 59 shots, good for a .949 even-strength score-close save percentage.
But then there's the rest of the games, when his team has been leading — because, remember, the Kings haven't been ahead of the Rangers for a single second of actual play despite being up 2-0 in this series — because Lundqvist and the Rangers as a whole have been abysmal. In just over 37 minutes of his team being up by at least one goal, Lundqvist has conceded five goals on just 20 shots, good for a save percentage of .750. In fact, when his team's up two goals, that drops to .667.
Meanwhile, Quick has been just fine overall, apart from conceding all those goals and putting his team in 2-0 holes both times out. But he's at least been able to stop the bleeding after that (just please disregard that .889 even-strength save percentage when his team is down overall).
Lundqvist just doesn't have a chance here, because the Kings are just coming at the Rangers in waves, relentlessly, and there's nothing to be done about it but wait for the inevitable. There's not an even-strength situation in which the Kings have not dominated the Rangers. Close, tied, overall 5-on-5, 4-on-4; all have been shooting galleries, with Lundqvist on the receiving end. You might be able to chalk some of that up to the Kings having home ice advantage in these first two games, but there's also the significant gap in quality between these two teams overall.
There's been a lot of discussion about the Kings' propensity to put themselves in a bit of a hole to start games, and everyone is correct when they say that they cannot afford to just spot teams two-goal leads whenever they want, but these comebacks aren't anything like a coincidence. What are the Rangers supposed to do here? Their top forwards and defensemen are getting bossed around pretty convincingly. Only those players who are really getting the smallest number of minutes were at 50 percent possession or more in both games and there just don't seem to be any answers to be had.
The thing is, too, that if not for these early leads, which the Rangers to their credit have earned, we wouldn't be thinking about how these games are fun or exciting. We'd only be thinking in terms of this being a grim death march for this great Kings team to lumber to a title. That 20-3 shot differential in the third period of Game 1 tells even the most casual observer everything they need to know about what happens when the Kings start putting their foot on the gas.
And it's tough for the Rangers too because one can't imagine that heading back to Madison Square Garden is going to offer much in the way of added competitive advantage. That they've played all this overtime already, despite having been pummeled in possession, speaks to just how tightly they've tried to hold onto those leads and how good the Kings have been at chipping away. If the early Ranger leads go away, so too does any hope of actual competition in these remaining games, at least if they're played in the same way as these first two. What line matchups could Alain Vigneault shuffle around to give his team a better chance here? How do you stop the bleeding?
Basically the only Kings that aren't running the show when they're on the ice are the bottom-pairing and fourth-line guys, and if the Rangers have to make up the difference in quality on the margins like that, they really need the Derek Dorsett and Dominic Moore types to step up.
So now's the time for Vigneault to start experimenting, because what they did in the first two games got them nowhere. Bet big, possibly win big. Or keep losing. Maybe they could put Rick Nash on the power play and see where that gets them, because you can't expect him to keep putting up 12 shots per 60 minutes and not score. That kind of thing helps. Things can't go worse than they've gone so far, right?
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Last week, the Ducks lost assistant coach Bob Woods to the Saskatoon Blades, where he'll be both GM and head coach. This is the first time he hasn't worked with Bruce Boudreau's organization since 2007.
Boston Bruins: The B's will be looking to make some trades this month, before free agency starts. You have to wonder how different the team will look in October. Could be significant changes.
Buffalo Sabres: Depending on what Florida does, it seems as though the Sabres are poised to select either Sam Reinhart or Bennett No. 2 overall at the draft, which makes a lot of sense. They don't need any more young defensemen. They might need a new goalie and coach, but defensemen? They're all set.
Calgary Flames: Obviously it's facetious, but this Calgary Sun article talking about Craig Conroy and new hire Brad Pascall suiting up for the club next season doesn't sound as much like a farce as it probably should.
Carolina Hurricanes: Still no new coach in Carolina. No new coach coming any time soon. Still as many as 10 people being considered. Boy oh boy.
Chicago Blackhawks: Former first-round pick Kevin Hayes still hasn't signed with the club despite the fact that the college season ended in early April. It's looking like he might give just try to test free agency. Something to keep in mind: His two linemates on Boston College this year (Johnny Gaudreau and Billy Arnold) both play for Calgary.
Colorado Avalanche: Speaking of guys not negotiating, it seems Paul Stastny's agent won't even start talking with the Avs until June 20. He's gotta be as good as gone, right?
Columbus Blue Jackets: Sounds like the people of Columbus are getting a raw deal on Nationwide Arena.
Dallas Stars: The Stars' AHL affiliate is in the Calder Cup Finals and those games are on TV so watch it when there's not a Cup Final game because you're about to go a long time without live hockey in your life.
Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings sure are bummed they can't just buy good players like they used to. Developing them is, like, so hard though.
Edmonton Oilers: The Oil signing Dave Bolland would be a terrible idea.
Florida Panthers: The Flames called the Panthers about getting the No. 1 overall pick? Now that's interesting. So long Sven Baertschi.
Los Angeles Kings: That Gaborik goal really just felt like an eventuality more than anything else on Saturday. Once Dwight King scored, you knew a fourth was coming. That's what the Kings are doing.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild will not rest until they have every Finnish player alive. Chuck Fletcher must have his satisfaction.
Montreal Canadiens: The Habs are close to re-signing Andrei Markov. He wants three years. Hoo boy.
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: The Predators want to host the All-Star Game one year from 2016 to 2019. Bridgestone Arena COO Sean Henry: “We’re pretty optimistic that we’re going to have one in the very near future. We should be hearing some positive news, I think, in the next few weeks.” Something to look forward to. Nashville's a groovy little town.
New Jersey Devils: But if Marty Brodeur walks, who will the Devils use to stop 90 percent of shots faced? Oh, literally any professional goalie, you say? Okay no worries then.
New York Islanders: What a mess that whole “The Islanders are being sold” and then “Wait no they aren't” thing was the other day. What a mess the Islanders ownership situation is.
Ottawa Senators: They're letting Ales Hemsky walk. Can't understand why.
Philadelphia Flyers: All these years later and Flyer fans still have an existential crisis every time one of their former players wins a Cup. Get over it.
Phoenix Coyotes: Here's a really interesting look at the Coyotes' offseason plans, and gee whiz does it seem like they're going to be playing a lot of kids.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jim Rutherford thinks Marc-Andre Fleury got over whatever “mental” issues might have been a hindrance for him in the past and will therefore be “very good” next year. Very good for him would be league average.
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton is still probably getting traded this summer. You know, before his brand-new contract extension kicks in. Good call on that one.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues have a really good prospect group going for them. That doesn't seem very fair to the rest of the Western Conference but that's how it is. If they can add some secondary scoring next year (or maybe even primary scoring) they could be much more dangerous.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ben Bishop says he'll be good to go for training camp. The team better hope the absurd amount of luck he had this year comes back as well.
Toronto Maple Leafs: But for real, if the Leafs want Joe Thornton, what do they have to give up? “And I’d build a nice little package around some combination of Tyler Bozak, James Reimer, Carl Gunnarsson and/or Cody Franson to do it.” I feel like I have to look up what “nice” means because that seems to be not very nice at all.
Vancouver Canucks: Ryan Kesler wants out. There's going to be quite a line to acquire him.
Washington Capitals: The Caps might be in the market for a “veteran goalie.” Good news, guys: I heard Marty Brodeur might be available.
Winnipeg Jets: On the other side of those aforementioned Calder Cup Finals is the Jets' affiliate St. John's IceCaps, and they look a lot like they'll be hotly contested. Both they and the Stars have lost just five games in this postseason.
Play of the Weekend
Any one-time goal on which the shooter ends up lying on his stomach is my kinda one-time goal.
Gold Star Award
Andrew Ference était au défilé de la fierté gaie à Edmonton. La 1re fois qu'un sportif de haut niveau y prenait part. pic.twitter.com/4Oz2D7Odip— 25stanley (@25stanley) June 8, 2014
Shout out to Andrew Ference for becoming the first NHL captain in league history to march in a Pride parade. He's the best.
Minus of the Weekend
Dan Girardi has been on the ice for four of the Kings' seven even-strength goals in this series, including three on Saturday alone. That is probably bad.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “AK1990” must be new to this.
To Tampa - Lupul & Gunnarsson
To Toronto - Malone (4.5 cap hit), Ohlund (3.607 cap hit) Drouin & $1,167,000 (prospal's buyout)
Turns out dad has been putting murdered cows in our hamburgers.