LOS ANGELES — There had been so much talk of luck, good bounces and bad, fortune favoring this team or that. The Rangers had seemed to believe that they had offended whomever there was to offend, and were now reaping the consequences — which appeared to be overtime losses in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
So, yes, maybe that little pile of snow that saved the Rangers and their series was a reversal of that bad luck. Or maybe it was nothing of the kind.
“Puck luck is for cop-outs,” the Kings Justin Williams said on Thursday. “I don’t believe in that at all. I’m a true believer that you get what you put into it. [Wednesday] night we simply weren’t good enough and we didn’t get paid off.
“In the grand scheme of things, we need to be better in Game 5 than we were in Game 4.”
Perhaps it makes sense that the Rangers, the team down, 3-1, in the series, is more interested in talking about the luck they haven’t gotten than the team that’s ahead. Because as Williams dismissed the concept, New York continues to mention those moments, the razor-thin margins between a puck stopping on the goal line and one that turns the red light on.
“There are moments where there’s so many things you can have an impact on — your game you can control, a couple other things. But there’s also so much out of your control,” Henrik Lundqvist said.
“A couple of times [Wednesday] night we had that luck that you need in a tight game. Sometimes you say it, maybe not mean it 100 percent, but that factor of luck in a series against a good team, you’re going to need it to win games.
“You can’t rely on it all the time. But there are moments in games where the difference is so small, that little extra push might help you get the win.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault referenced, for instance, Dan Girardi’s broken stick in Game 4. The knob of the stick came off in the defenseman’s hand and Dustin Brown took off on a breakaway that resulted in the Kings’ only goal of the game.
“Those are things that happen,” Vigneault said. “Bounces happen during the game.”
And, he added, the point is that players are able to work hard to make them go their way, be in the right place — like Derek Stepan and Anton Stralman on the goal line in Game 4 — to make their own luck.
“You work for your bounces, you work for your luck, how many times have we seen — playoffs, regular season, any time — where pucks are going off legs and elbow, gloves, shins, whatever to go in the net,” the Kings’ Jarret Stoll said. “You gotta work to get there, that’s how you get your bounces and your luck, and I think it all works out over the course of a game and of a season.”
A year’s difference
In so many ways, it seemed like this year was different from last year, at least in terms of Brad Richards. Richards, of course, was demoted then scratched in the playoffs under John Tortorella last season. And then for Game 4 this year, he found himself being demoted again.
It was earned, as Richards has not been playing well. But everyone seemed to handle the situation differently under new coach Vigneault.
“Brad’s a team-first guy,” Vigneault said. “As a coach and especially at this time of the year when you don’t get a lot of these opportunities, sometimes you got to make decisions that might be a little tough to make on a personal aspect. But on a team aspect, you have to.
“I just felt that certain guys were playing a little bit better than Brad. That’s the way it is.”
Richards was moved to the fourth line for Game 4, though he remained on the power play, getting 13:20 of ice time.
Richards’ reaction to the change?
“If you’re down 3-0, you know, there’s something that has to change sometimes,” he said. “Just talk to the new linemates, go play.”
Bruins rated 4th in Game 4
Boston came in fourth again in ratings for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final with a 4.2 rating, behind only New York (8.1), Los Angeles (7.3), and Buffalo (5.1). Philadelphia and Providence (both 4.1) rounded out the top six markets . . . The Kings flew back to Los Angeles after Game 4 on Wednesday night, landing around 3 a.m., while the Rangers flew back on Thursday morning before skating at the Staples Center in the mid-afternoon. Asked about the flight, Stoll said, “It was fine. Had a good Chilean sea bass.” . . . The Kings did not seem overly excited about the chance to clinch the Cup on home ice rather than at Madison Square Garden. They just want to clinch it, wherever it happens. As Stoll said, “We’ve won three games; it doesn’t matter where you win the fourth.” Added Williams, “Just win — that’s with a big period and exclamation point after it. I don’t care where it is. Win one more.”