Los Angeles Kings Finally Get Burnt After Playing with Fire in Stanley Cup Final

The Los Angeles Kings nearly ran the New York Rangers out of Madison Square Garden in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. However, puck luck spared the Blueshirts, and the third in a slew of early 2-0 deficits in the series finally caught up to L.A. on Wednesday.

In the playoffs—let alone the SCF—the margin for error is obviously slight. The Kings cannot continue to spot the opposition leads and hope to claw back.

By Game 4, they'd been to that well one too many times. Good fortune rested with New York for once, as Alain Vigneault’s squad caught a fortuitous bounce on its game-winner while nervously watching L.A. scramble to within an inch of tying the contest on two separate occasions:

Had the Kings been raring to go from the opening whistle, this series would likely have concluded with a sweep.

As the even-strength Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts) chart below demonstrates, L.A. was all over New York in the second half of the game, pummeling the Rangers with wave upon wave of offense:

Alas, Henrik Lundqvist—well, more so the ice shavings in front of his goal line—could not be breached, and the Kings’ late-game dominance amounted to nothing but a notch in the loss column. Their stunning five-on-five Corsi percentage of 61.5 and 41-19 edge in shots were of no consequence.

Too little, too late.

Looking at the bigger picture, head coach Darryl Sutter’s team has suffered through dismal starts over the entire spring.

The Kings’ goal differential per frame sheds light on how the team has reached this point: minus-one in the first, plus-three in the second and a whopping plus-13 in the third.

Boasting the resilience to fight back in clutch situations is a wonderful asset and produces a cute narrative the press can pounce on, but winning a Stanley Cup in this fashion is an incredibly arduous task....

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