The NY Rangers are on the verge of being swept out of the Stanley Cup Finals by the LA Kings. For the Rangers, this is the first appearance in the NHL Finals in 20 years. Down 0-3, it is not over, but there’s not much life left. Lessons learned may be applied toward next year, rather than turning this series around.
The NY Rangers made a conscious decision to replace former coach John Tortorella as their head coach with another well respected head coach Alain Vigneault, before the season started. Tortorella may be a very brash head coach who wears his emotions on his sleeve, but in the right situation, he gets results.
Looking over Vigneault’s coaching career pre-NY Rangers, it is filled with near misses and team chokes. Vigneault has never been able to bring his team to the Cup. Sure, he came awfully close with the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-2011, but in New York, second place is first loser. Couple that with a heavy favorite, which Vancouver was, and New York fans would have lambasted him into infamy.
This year, the NY Rangers find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals, a sweet, welcome surprise for Ranger fans. Now that they’re here, they need to perform. Just getting there is not good enough for rabid Rangers fans. Being down 0-3, for the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup would be nearly record breaking; only one team has won the Cup down 0-3, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, the NY Rangers found themselves ahead by two goals early in each game, only to fritter the lead away and lose to the Kings in overtime. The NY Rangers are being coached like a typical Alain Vigneault team. Good enough to get to the dance, not good enough to leave with the object of their desire.
It’s easy to say that any team just has to lock it down when they have a lead, but it is really the only thing that the NY Rangers need to do in order to win. Had the Rangers held two leads in the first two games, this article may be about how the NY Rangers are on the verge of winning the Cup.
In Game 3 of this series, the Rangers looked like a team defeated. It was not a pretty game for any member of the NY Rangers. Even NY Rangers superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist looked off his game. The Rangers missed the net repeatedly or shot the puck directly into LA Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick’s chest. Quick was rarely challenged in Game 3.
The Kings had to endure three seven game series to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and the team is flourishing. The pressure is on and the NY Rangers are folding.
This series has spun out of control for the Rangers. Alain Vigneault has two days to teach the NY Rangers how to hold onto leads, a task that with a downward spiraling team may not be possible.