For the first two periods of Game 1, the New York Rangers looked like they were equal to the task of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Their team speed even seemed to leave the Los Angeles Kings overwhelmed at times in the early going. Ultimately the Kings clearly flipped the script, especially in the third period and on, eventually winning 3-2 in OT.
More than a few people wonder if the Rangers eased off the accelerator at some point during a process where a 2-0 lead dissolved into a tough overtime loss.
Chris Kreider backed up the notion that some of the Rangers’ wounds were self-inflicted.
“I think we obviously expected them to have their surges but I think there were times tonight when we probably shot ourselves in the foot and got away from the type of game we wanted to play,” Kreider said.
Kreider expressed regret over passing up some opportunities, but the numbers indicate that it was a team (lack of) effort. That’s especially true of the third period where the Kings dominated possession by way of a 20-3 shot advantage.
Then again, many will point to Dan Girardi’s turnover in overtime (which opened the door for Justin Williams’ overtime-winner) as the true “shoot yourself in the foot” moment:
“I like the way we played in the first two periods, I thought it was a hard fought first 40 minutes by both teams,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “I’m not sure what quite happened in the third – if it was them being that good or us stopping moving the puck and skating. They definitely took it to us in the third. They were the better team.”
“We’ve got 48 hours to make some adjustments before we play Saturday.”