Razor-thin Margin

The parent New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup Final loss to the Los Angeles Kings ended in five games, making it the shortest Final series in terms of games since Anaheim beat Ottawa in five in the 2007 Final.

It was hardly a rollover, however.

In fact, with a pair of double-overtime games, including Friday night’s clincher at Staples Center, and another extra session in Game One, the Rangers and Kings played a total of 69:45 of hockey outside of regulation.  That’s the time equivalent of at least one more full regulation game and part of another.  What’s more, while the Kings were brilliant (throughout the playoffs, really, not just in this series) at coming up with the last word, so to speak, the Rangers actually controlled the lead for much more of the matchup than the eventual winners did.  The Kings never led in the one game they lost, Game Four, and never were in front in the first two games before winning those in OT.  All told, if my calculations are correct, the Rangers were in the lead for a total of 110:54 in the series, while L.A. held the lead for 69:34.

The Los Angeles Kings celebrate after the Stanley Cup-winning, double-OT goal scored by #27 Alec Martinez (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings celebrate after the Stanley Cup-winning, double-OT goal scored by #27 Alec Martinez (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

So, while the Kings had a significant edge in shots on goal throughout the five games, with a total margin of 194-146 for an average of 38.8-29.2 per game, I would dispute any notion that the Rangers were in any way dominated in the series.  Nothing seemed to slow the Kings down, though, and it seemed as though their confidence that they would come up with the decisive big play never wavered.  The exclamation point of that notion was the way Game Five, and the series, ended, with both teams hitting multiple goalposts in the overtime before Alec Martinez scored on a rebound with only 5:17 left in the second OT.  That was the second series-winning overtime goal for Martinez, who also had the OT winner in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals against Chicago.

The ringing of posts in the Game Five extra session represents one of several “what if’s” that are sure to wear on the Rangers this summer.

“When we won at home the other day, I was thinking what if we had won one game here (Los Angeles),” New York’s Derick Brassard said to the media after Friday night’s season-ending loss. “It’s not like we didn’t play well. It could’ve gone either way. We lost the series there [in the first two games].”

I would add to that: What if Jonathan Quick hadn’t made his outlandish, paddle-of-the-stick save on Mats Zuccarello in the first period of Game Three, when that contest was still scoreless?  What if the seemingly questionable tripping penalty against Zuccarello, which led to the third-period tying goal in Game Three, had not been called?  So many potential turning points…but isn’t that always the way?  When you get down to the last two teams standing, there usually isn’t much to separate them, and there certainly wasn’t in this series.

So there will be plenty of disappointment for the Blueshirts to shrug off in the next few weeks, but to me the Final loss does not in any way diminish what has been a terrific recent era for the big club.  Two years ago the Rangers came within two wins of a trip to the Final, and losing only once in a five-game Final this year puts them, I think, right behind the Kings, Chicago and Boston in terms of playoff forces to be reckoned with over the past few seasons.

Therrien Signs Contract Extension in Montreal

Good news for old friend, and former Wolf Pack assistant coach, J.J. Daigneault, currently an assistant to Montreal Canadiens head man Michel Therrien, as the Habs announced a four-year contract extension for Therrien Saturday.

J.J. Daigneault

J.J. Daigneault

One would assume that the faith thus shown in Therrien would extend to his lieutenants, who this year helped the fiery bench boss to guide his troops to a 100-point regular season, the team’s best showing since 2007-08, and a pair of playoff series wins, including the emotional upset of the regular season-champion Boston Bruins in the second round.  Montreal eventually bowed to the Rangers in six games in the Eastern finals.

“Michel and his coaching staff work in a unique and demanding hockey market, and the team’s success over the last two seasons is a reflection of their excellent work,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in announcing Therrien’s extension. “This decision reflects our desire for stability and consistency within our hockey operations department.”

Daigneault just finished his second season as Therrien’s assistant, after six years on the Wolf Pack staff.

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