I don’t believe in Puck Luck, never have.
I put it up there right beside the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Gregor’s ability to play hockey.
I am not sure where this term started but it should just go back there. So often it is used to explain how team A beat team B. That team A simply got the lucky bounces and not through consistent effort. There are lucky bounces in hockey but a team earns them. They are not predetermined by destiny.
The Rangers and the Kings have both been playing hard and well to get to the Stanley Cup finals. They earned the opportunity to compete for hockey’s ultimate prize. After two close game the Kings had a nice cushion of victory last night, 3-0. To the casual observer, the highlights would show the Kings getting the lucky bounces. Those bounces got them the win. I don’t see it that way at all.
What I saw last night was a King’s team that was consistent in its style of play and focus. Never getting outside of what makes them successful as a team. I saw a Rangers team playing hard — the effort was not lacking. The Rangers were trying too hard to create chances that were not there. They were over aggressive to the point of being out of position. The Rangers effort led to the Kings goals, not puck luck.
Here is goal number 1:
Not a super first by either team but if you’re the Rangers, being tied at home after one is something you can live with. Under ten seconds to go in the first period. Kings get a fast break opportunity. Nash back checks hard on Williams as he should. The D, Moore, needs to read that play by Nash and fold back underneath him to protect the middle of the ice. Moore doesn’t do that and the space needed for a two on one opens up.
Williams makes a nice pace and Carter is off. Carter’s shot seems to go off Girardi judging by the King’s reaction. Puck Luck? Not a chance. The Rangers gave the Kings this chance, no luck there.
Here is goal number 2:
Kings on the PP. Their PP is quite simple. Work the puck from low to high and shoot the puck. They haven’t reinvented the PP! They do just that on this PP. Muzzin jumps to the middle with the puck and gets off a quick shot. St Louis tries to block the shot, instead it redirects off him past the King. St Louis is trying to make a difference, trying to do the right thing. He is better off to let the puck go through to the King. He is quite low as a forward to block.
Puck luck? It is a good bounce for the Kings but they do the right thing. Sooner or later you are rewarded.
Here is goal number 3:
By this point in the game the Rangers are pressing, needing a goal to get back into it and the series. They are cheating on the offensive side of the puck. Girardi pinches down to keep the play alive. Both St Louis and Richards are in decent position to support the pinch. Neither one gets above the Kings players. St Louis dives into the pile along the wall to help. As soon as he does the puck goes by him and boom….two-on-one.
Richards tries to make a pass for a back door tap in. McDonagh breaks up the pass but it goes right back to Richards. The King has slid over already, empty net for Richards.
Puck Luck? The bounce off McDonaugh was a good break for the Kings. But the entire play is very avoidable if either St. Louis or Richards back off in the O-zone. No puck luck, not today.
So often we blame the player right beside the guy who scored for a goal against (or the goal tender). Try this: after a goal is scored rewind a little and see if you can determine the real cause. I know that AV was not blaming Girardi on either the first or third goals. McDonaugh wasn’t taking any heat for the third goal. I am sure they feel badly but they were not to blame nor should puck luck get the credit!