The New York Rangers are quickly learning what San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago learned in the Western Conference playoffs: The Los Angeles Kings are the ultimate horror-movie killers. It doesn’t matter if you drain their blood, sever their head and burn their body — they just won’t die.
Dustin Brown’s deflection: Once again, the rule of overtime is to get pucks to the net and get traffic in front of said net. The Kings did both. Defenseman Willie Mitchell took care of the shot, wing Dustin Brown took care of the traffic and the deflection and the Kings took care of the Rangers.
Dwight King’s illegal goal: With the Rangers leading 4-2 early in the third period, the Kings forward took a direct path into New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, got jostled a little by Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and clearly interfered with Lundqvist as he deflected Matt Greene’s shot into the net. Maybe someday the NHL will decide that if the puck goes in the net and there’s any question of interference, the refs should always look at the video. This goal turned the tide of the game and maybe ended any hopes New York has of a victory in this series.
Los Angeles leads 2-0
1. RW Justin Williams, Los Angeles: Williams had three assists to pull into a tie with teammate Jeff Carter for second in the NHL in postseason points (23).
WHAT WE LEARNED
Can we all just acknowledge that Kings goalie Jonathan Quick hasn’t been very good in this postseason? You can call it inconsistent if you want, but that means he hasn’t been good; he’s been OK. Quick’s .906 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against average this postseason are below average, plain and simple, and in this case, they are an accurate reflection of how he has played.
The thing is — and his teammates and coaches have noted this — he makes the saves when he needs to, and he keeps winning. Quick was terrific in the first overtime when New York had a lot of offensive zone time.
Maybe this new version of the L.A. Kings won’t need Quick to be the 2012 Conn Smythe-winning version because they have been scoring like the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s (an NHL-high 3.52 goals per game in the playoffs).
As noted above, L.A. seems capable of overcoming every obstacle. New York has been pretty good in this series. Not Chicago good, but better than most expected. The Rangers have used their speed as a weapon, and they have a world-class goalie who imbues the team in front of him with confidence.
New York could lose this series quickly and many will say the Rangers were not worthy. Games 3 and 4 in New York will provide a better barometer, but right now, the Rangers just appear to be running into a team of destiny — and a team far too complete to blow the chance when it is this close to the prize.
Not to sound the alarm for Kings fans already, but forward Marian Gaborik is two goals away from matching Wayne Gretzky (15 in 1993) for the most goals by a King in one postseason. Gaborik, as everyone by now knows, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. If Ales Hemsky’s now broken-off contract talks with Ottawa are a guide, Gaborik could be looking to cash in big-time.
What do you do if you’re the Kings? Gaborik, 32, has proven to be a marvelous complement to Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the top line, giving previously anemic L.A. a major offensive jolt. On the flip side, GM Dean Lombardi is pretty adept at trade-deadline deals. And what do you do if you’re Gaborik? Clearly, this line is a great fit. Do you chase the money and risk a much worse fit — one you’ve already experienced in Columbus?