Rangers are down, but luck isn't the reason why


NEW YORK — Dan Girardi made it clear enough.

"We are not blaming our losses on bounces, that's for sure," he said about 12 hours after the New York Rangers went down three 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings. "That's definitely not an excuse for us."

Brad Richards was a little more nihilistic: "I can't tell you honestly we feel we should be down 3-0, but it doesn't really matter if I say that or not because we are," he said.

Both guys are right. Regardless of what they, their teammates, their opponents and anyone else says, it doesn't matter, and it's not an excuse. The Los Angeles Kings have been the better team in each of the first three games. The phrase "puck luck" is flying around a fair bit right now. The Rangers don't have it, but it's almost impossible to see that as a deciding factor of the series so far.

When you get outshot, out-attempted and outplayed in basically every situation, even if it's not by much, luck ceases to be a part of the discussion.

And if you want to talk about luck, New York got the first break of the series; the Kings came out for Game 1 dead-legged and on about a week's less rest than New York. It was an obvious factor in their spotting the Rangers a 2-0 first period lead — and then the Kings blew their doors off. They finished the game, a 3-2 overtime win, with a 43-27 shot edge overall and a 38-19 edge on unblocked, 5-on-5 attempts.

In Game 2, they had some luck, too; Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar are good, responsible players whose brain farts led directly to the Rangers' 2-0 lead. That game, a 5-4 Kings win in double overtime, concluded with the Kings holding a 44-38 shot advantage, a 91-77 edge in overall shot attempts and a 54-49 edge in unblocked 5-on-5 attempts.

Good luck arguing that the Rangers deserved a game in which they managed two blow three two-goal leads. Dwight King's bump-aided tip past Henrik Lundqvist, believe it or not, did not count for triple.

Henrik Lundqvist estimated that 70 percent of the Kings' goals came on tips, "but it's part of the game. That's how teams score now."

In Game 3, the Kings' goalie was better. It happens. It's not independent of the rest of the team. It counts — and the Rangers know that. Lundqvist's play at Staples Center was mostly behind the drama those games brought at the back end.

"Just like we've seen Hank do so many times to the opposition on the road, (Jonathan Quick) did it to us yesterday," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.

So, regardless of the reasons behind the Rangers' deficit, it exists. The Stanley Cup, as you'll hear 10,000 times, will be in the building on Wednesday. It's New York's job to prevent it from making it onto the ice.

Beyond that, though, things look bad. Of the 26 teams to go down 3-0 in a best-of-seven Final, one has come back. That was 72 years ago.

"I think you feel a lot of different emotions right now, and anger is probably one of them," Lundqvist said. "I think it's important that you don't feel sorry for yourself."

MORE: Final in photos | Game 4 look