The New York Rangers have been a force through three rounds in these Stanley Cup playoffs because of their speed.
It’s with that relentless pace that they knocked out the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final, and they believe it’s what they’ll need if they’re to be successful against the L.A. Kings when it matters the most – in the Stanley Cup Final.
“Our speed definitely helped us in terms of creating good chances. We just need to continue doing that throughout the series,” said New York forward Carl Hagelin, who scored a short-handed goal late in the first period of Wednesday’s Game 1 loss for the Rangers.
“It’s hard to beat them. All their (defense) are pretty steady defensively. You have to make sure you get behind them and hopefully win races.”
The Rangers, including head coach Alain Vigneault, were still lamenting an opportunity that got away from them in the championship series opener. New York jumped out to a two-goal lead, but gave up three unanswered goals in the loss.
The Rangers registered 33 bodychecks compared to the 45 of the Kings. Although, they feel that, again, using their speed on the forecheck should be a benefit.
You don’t necessarily have to plaster an opposing player to the boards, but their ability to get in and pressure opposing defenders has been a major strength for New York during this post-season.
For the majority of the game, I felt we were matching them, too, physically. We had some big hits ourselves. We understand they’re going to be physical on us, and we’re not going to shy away from it for sure,” said Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
“We’ve got to look for opportunities to be physical on them for our forecheck, our speed. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a big hit, but utilizing our legs, getting on the right side of guys, creating turnovers that way is part of being physical, too. We feel we can play that game, as well.”