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Leg up: Rangers take early lead in claiming underdog role

Jun 2, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

Kudos to New York head coach Alain Vigneault for getting out quickly in the “no no, we’re the underdog” challenge:

It’s become an annual rite of passage for coaches to try and position their team as the one nobody thought could win. We’ve seen it extensively this postseason, especially out west — in Round 2, Darryl Sutter suggested the Kings were underdogs going into Game 7 against Anaheim, only for Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau to counter with “you can ask anybody who they think the underdog is, and the underdog’s us.”

(The Kings ended up pounding Anaheim 6-2 in Game 7, so I guess Boudreau was right.)

The Sharks tried a similar strategy in Round 1, suggesting they were the underdogs to L.A. despite finishing 11 points clear of the Kings in the Pacific Division standings and holding home-ice advantage. Between what happened to the Sharks and Ducks, it makes you wonder if Vigneault should’ve employed some reverse psychology and anointed the Rangers the favorites, just to shake it up a bit.

Oh, and just in case you don’t think Sutter would even try to position the Kings as an underdog, consider what he said after Sunday’s Game 7 win over Chicago…

Q. Up against the Rangers, what are your initial thoughts on them?

COACH SUTTER: Great goaltending. Great defense. Great forwards. Great special teams.

Related

Kings are 10/17 favorites to beat Rangers (3/2)

Rangers as underdogs? Brad Richards doesn’t think so

Video: New York the underdog regardless of who wins West?

  1. skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Duh. These finals are going to be a joke. NY isn’t anywhere near LA’s level. NY is fortunate to have a few extra days rest, and LA is unfortunate to have had to play more games against better teams to get to the finals, so they’re going to have more fatigue. Energy levels aside, I can’t think of a more lopsided set of teams in the finals since maybe 1998.

    • jkay1818 - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      how so?
      Rangers had one less win than them in the regular season and since a little before the midway point the rangers have had a better record.
      they have the better goalie and D unit and speed wise are faster than any team they have faced so far. like the kings, they also run a deep 4 line unit.
      How is this so lopsided?

      • billiam55 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        jkay if u dont mind i found ur comment u made an article back about this issue and pasted it here. u pretty much summed it up.

        to ske213 and everyone else who thinks the rangers are gonna get smashed easily by the kings:

        it’s easy to say they will lose, but why? many will argue this team is a lot better now than mid season. the addition of st louis to that lineup stretches their depth and makes them much more potent offensively. They are more skilled on the back end with klein than del zotto, and they have also grown as a team and have a ton of chemistry and seem to be a very close knit crew.
        A lot of those sloppy goals the kings have been getting this series would be tough to do against the NYR. They do an excellent job at keeping teams away from the net, holding them to the perimeter and are rarely sloppy aside from a few lapses. Lundqvist is also a better goaltender than Quick. It’s a tough call because the past few months the rangers have been as good as anyone and has boasted a better record than them over the second half. Kings have been rolling, but, they havent faced a goalie like lundqvist yet. crawford has a ring but he hasn’t been lights out.
        regular season doesn’t mean a whole lot but the rangers went 3-1 combined vs both teams.
        Like i said, very easy to say they’ll get smoked, but why? They have great goaltending, score goals now, have a solid D and a ton of depth which is key throughout a long series.

      • jkay1818 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        thanks for that. Doesn’t matter, it is a lot easier for people to say “they are going to get killed’ This is the most similar team to themselves the kings have faced so far.
        Crawford and that defense were atrocious in the WCF and look at the goaltending they faced in the first two rounds. Kings are an excellent team, but the Rangers have turned out to be a force and a much difft team that started that west coast road trip.

      • classicdbrown - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        Eastern Conference – LOL

    • stakex - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      You make a lot of good points jkay1818.

      When it comes down to it, most people don’t even know why they are so certain the Kings are going to dominate the series. People are sheep, and the narrative that the West is going to dominate the East has been drilled into everyone’s head for months now…. and people are just repeating it without much thought. When the teams are actually compared though, its a far closer looking series than the popular narrative would have you believe.

    • classicdbrown - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      I completely agree. Rangers fans that think there is a chance are delusional.

    • afce22 - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      I’m a Ranger fan but the argument for LA is pretty obvious. I’m not saying I believe it will play out this way but for those of you who seem so perplexed the reason Kings fans are cocky is because:

      1) their team has won the Cup, and it’s basically the same group of players returning
      2) they played one of the more difficult playoff schedules in recent history, winning each time on the road. Proven toughness
      3) they have better Centers, will win a lot of face offs and are a better scoring team
      4) they’ve shown they can grind it out, play physical and play good D

      Having said that, I think Kings fans are the ones who haven’t been watching the other conference. As someone else said, the reason Crosby, Pacioretty, Giroux and company struggled is because the Rangers have the best top 4 defense group in the league. And then Lundqvist is backing them up. They also put a lot of pressure on the defense with their relentless forecheck, they wiped out Montreal with it and the Kings are already come in fatigued so maybe that’s the equalizer.

  2. c1md6 - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    So ridiculous the bias the West gets. People watch a West game and it’s up and down action and think that is gonna carry over to a game vs an east team. The west will take a punch to give a punch, and outside of the Blues are very finesse. The Red Wings were an OT goal away from going to the Western final last year against the Blackhawks, this year in the East were bounced in the first round. It’s the equivalent to the NFL where the average person could’ve watched Peyton Manning and Tom Brady putting up a 45-40 game and everyone saying there’s no way a team like Seattle or San Francisco could compete when they play a 10-7 game. It’s just the style Andre points back and fourth action appears to be superior but really it’s not, the east is a swarming, smothering, hard hitting, clog the neutral zone, smash mouth style. I’m not saying the kings aren’t gonna win and I’m not saying the Rangers are, I’m just tired of the western bias, and I hope the kings skate with their head up. Also, unlike Crawford hank’s not letting in 5 goals a game and wrist shots from the blue line so quick better tighten up. Gonna be a long series and a battle.

    • hrudey - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      Except that, you know, the Kings can also beat you defensively and grinding it out, or did you start watching hockey in 2013? Fewest goals allowed this regular season? Some Western conference team in the Finals. 6 of the 9 leaders in hits in the playoffs? Some Western conference team in the Finals. We know that the physicality of the East in general and the Rangers in specific is so impressive that the Canadiens were feeling the hit before it even came, but the East is littered with soft teams like Pit/Phi/Montreal/most anyone else that isn’t Boston or NYR. But anyway, thanks for the expert analysis that comes from having watch all of two games of Western Conference hockey after the Rangers advanced to the Finals.

      • jkay1818 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        kelly is that you?

      • c1md6 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        Right. Of course their stats are gonna be higher this post season in just about every category when the Rangers have played 20 games, 60.5 periods and 1210 minutes of playoff hockey. The Kings are at 21 games, 65.25 periods and an excruciating 1306.18 of playoff action.owever, here’s a stat for ya, Quick has given up 3 goals or more 11 times, 7 of those times it was 4 or more and 3 times 5 plus, once again the west will take a punch to give a punch. But that’s a boatload of goals and if you think for a second the Ramgers D and Hank are gonna allow 5 goal games than you must of just starting watching hockey in 2014.

      • hrudey - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        “But that’s a boatload of goals and if you think for a second the Ramgers D and Hank are gonna allow 5 goal games than you must of just starting watching hockey in 2014.”

        Apparently, you would have had to start watching hockey after game 5 of the ECF, then, or did you mean only exactly five goals, because I guess 7 isn’t really 5.

      • c1md6 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Well Hank have up 4, not sure if your google search told you that he was pulled in the 2nd. The King has only let in 3 or more goals 5 times vs Quick’s whopping 11 times. He has had only 6 performances where he’s posted a sub .900 save percentage. Oh and by the way not sure if you caught game 6 where he posted a shutout right after a bad performance because, well, Hank is a remarkable 6-1 following a post season game surrendering four or more goals with a .978 save percentage and and a 1.1 GAA. Shall we look into his game 7 numbers because I can assure you they’re quite exceptional, unless you now you’re counting on LA to score 5 goals a game to beat Hank. Laughable.

      • hrudey - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Once again, nobody’s counting on Hank or the Rangers to give up 5 (or 7). Just pointing out that the best defense in the league this regular season over an 82 game period was, gosh, look at that, the Los Angeles Kings. They haven’t played to the same standard in the postseason, to be sure, but to make it sound like this is the second coming of the Penguins who need to run and gun and can’t play defense to save their lives is absurd, even if you’ve never watched a game played outside the Eastern Time Zone.

        The funny thing is that I think the Rangers are a solid team, and they’ll give LA a good fight. Henrik’s good enough to steal the series, but that’s the key – he’d be stealing it. For all the puffery about the physicality of the Rangers, in 20 games they’ve reached 40 hits 0 times. They’ve been hit 40 times in a game 0 times. Same old tough Eastern Conference, soft West, I suppose, though credit to the Rangers for at least trying to be physical and not being a bunch of divers like some of their conference finals opponents. In contrast, the Kings have had 12 games with over 40 hits, with five of those over 50 and one over 60, and they’ve been hit 40 times in seven games.

        Now, if you want to say the Rangers have every chance to win the series, good for you. I think they could as well, though I think they’re definitely deserved underdogs. Just try to understand that the East calling out the West for softness and a lack of defense and complaining about a West coast bias might be the funniest thing I’ve heard in quite some time.

      • jkay1818 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        Hrudey, you need to slow down. You are contradicting yourself big time. You are going on these rants and make comments about people not watching hockey outside of the easten time zone and then go on and on how the rangers claim they are big and tough and hit and then throw stats about throwing the body. Anyone, and I mean anyone knows that this Rangers team doesn’t pose as anything physical. In fact, one of the reasons they would have had issues with boston would be their size. Rangers are a smaller team, but FAST. they fly in transition and possess a ton of chemistry. Rangers are never pegged as some smash mouth team. They are excellent defensively but that doesn’t mean they are rugged. They are tough to keep up with and play a tremendous forechecking game due to their team speed. Guys like dorsett throw the body around, but, he isn’t big by any means. In fact Boyle, all 6’7 has guys lined up all the time and doesn’t even flatten them. Just because they block shots, and play D doesn’t mean they boast as hard hitting tough guys. They play a smart game and speed kills my man.

      • hrudey - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        I’m mostly referring to the c11md4 post in the “Kings are 10/17 favorites to beat Rangers” where I read:
        “Dude Pittsburgh is definitely better than Anaheim, it’s not even close. I’m so tired of the bias the West gets, the style they play allows it to look like a superior brand of hockey, but I must of saw 6 checks thrown all series in the West, it was up and down hockey. If you think for a second Ryan McDonough, Mark Staal, and Dan Giardi are just gonna let them skate through the neutral zone uncontested you’re crazy, they better skate with their head up because that style of play doesn’t fly in the east. I’m not saying the rangers are gonna win also not saying the kings are gonna win it’s gonna be a close series, but definitely not a runaway. Don’t let the style of the west blind you because the kings better be ready for a hard hitting war and wrist shots from the blue line are not gonna work on Lundqvist.”

        I realize it would have been better to just keep the comments there or better yet, just ignore this nonsense altogether.

      • c1md6 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        Jeez Turdy you’re pretty obsessed withe huh? Anyways, I stand by what I said, if you think that the west doesn’t play an open style compared to the east, well then you’re blinder than the officials in game 5 of the ECF.

  3. nyking1963 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    To predict that the finals would be a joke is silly. Nobody knows how these teams will actually match up because they only faced each other twice back in October. I doubt any of the players remember either game.
    I do believe the Kings have a big advantage down the middle. The Rangers are going to need to be able to dominate the middle of the ice to be successful and with Kopitar, Carter, Stoll, and Richards I don’t see that being the case, but that’s just an observation.
    I’m a Kings fan but I certainly don’t think it would be wise to take the Rangers lightly. They’re in the cup finals for a reason..they’re the best team from the east. The Kings are the best team from the west.
    May the best team win.
    Go Kings!

  4. papajack1259 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    These are two very good teams my two cents
    The Rangers may be at a disadvantage having been playing so well with the added layoff
    I think LA has the advantage in net Quick is very …well Quick and Henri is somewhat a head case at times
    McDonough and Dogherty are two of the best but I see Dogherty getting an edge for his speed an hockey smarts
    Rangers have scoring punch carear wise this bunch played below their potential if they find the hot hand it’s the only way they stand a chance they need to hit the back of the net and not the post when opportunity knocks
    I am looking forward to this
    I say LA in 5 or 6
    Sorry Ranger Fans but I am usually wrong good luck and drop the puck

    • henrik4dawin - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:31 PM

      Sorry I find it hard to take your post seriously because there are so many areas where it’s wrong. I won’t debate who’s better Hank or Quick (look at my name– take a guess) but Hank has never been accused of being a headcase– and has had better stats this playoff. I’, not sure who Dogherty and McDonough are– I believe you’re talking of Doughty and McDonagh, but I also think they are very different players– Doughty is definitely better offensively, while McD is a stud defensively. Scoring has to go to the Kings, while I don’t deny the Rangers have guys who can score (St. Louis, Hags, Kreider, Nash hopefully etc.) the way the Kings’ offense has been clicking they seem to take it. As lot’s of people have said– play the games. Here’s to the best team (hopefully my NYR’s) winning

  5. jkay1818 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    quick has the advantage over lundqvist and lundvist is a headcase?

    what?

    • cofran2004 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:38 PM

      thats exactly what I was thinking. how exactly does quick have the edge, and how exactly is hank a head case?

      something is clearly broken inside someone’s head, but it ain’t hank’s…

  6. barkar942 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    “Oh, and just in case you don’t think Sutter would even try to position the Kings as an underdog, consider what he said after Sunday’s Game 7 win over Chicago…

    Q. Up against the Rangers, what are your initial thoughts on them?

    COACH SUTTER: Great goaltending. Great defense. Great forwards. Great special teams.”

    Who translated his Sutterese? What reporters are experts in interpreting Sutterese?
    What qualifications are needed to learn how to interpret Sutterese?
    I swore he said grunt gulltinning, grund Depends, grout four wards, and greet speckal means.
    Does Rosetta Stone have a package for Sutterese?

    • barkar942 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      NBC- can we at least get subtitles when you interview Sutter during the playoffs!
      I think his success to his coaching is that his players are clueless as to what instructions they are given. They go out and play, and no matter what they did, Sutter mumbles and gives a thumbs up. The players make him look like a super smart coach!

      • blomfeld - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:56 PM

        ACHTUNG BARKAR !

        you stupid fool ! … you dumb communist ! … don’t you know that 92% of all human communication is ‘non’ verbal ? … the bottom line is that Coach Sutter can speaks ‘volumes’ without saying a single word, however you’ve obviously ‘lost the way’ and that’s a shame … so my advice to you pal would be to return to the sewer systems of New York post haste ! … and God speed while you’re at it eh ? :)

  7. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    Why count the Rangers out. They have solid D , believe in their system, have balanced scoring, have speed, have a coach who knows the west. Play disciplined and they will compete. O Yeah did I mention we have Hank?

    • classicdbrown - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:06 PM

      Quick > Lundquist

      • cofran2004 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:39 PM

        the stats disagree with you, this playoffs.

  8. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Keep talking classic. Keep talking.

    • classicdbrown - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      Trash talk, my favorite part of hockey. Kings in 4.

  9. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    Your that good and couldn’t close out ant of the previous rounds in less than 7 games?

    • classicdbrown - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      *You’re

    • johnmr12 - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      Actually, we don’t think YOURE THAT GOOD. We think the sharks , ducks, and hawks would have all beat you in less than 7 games.

      • skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        Easily. Although my Sharks probably would have gone up 3-0 and found a way to lose. :-/

  10. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    Classic lol.

  11. skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    Ok, so people don’t agree with me that the Kings are going to coast to victory. We’ll see.

    Can we all at least just agree that watching the Finals will inevitably be ruined by Pierre McGuire?

    • hrudey - Jun 3, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      It won’t be ruined. It will be diminished greatly, though. But considering that as a Kings fan living in Florida, I got to hear NBCSN carry the Sharks’ broadcast the entire first round and then have Hayward from the Ducks inside the glass for the early part of the second round, McGuire might actually almost be a step up.

      Well, except the Sharks broadcast team isn’t that bad, so he’s really only a step up from Hayward. It’s a step from a dog turd into a cat box, though.

      • skr213 - Jun 3, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        Yeah, I’d take Drew Ramenda over Pierre ANY DAY of the week.

  12. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    Kings in 4. I’m retarded….

  13. johnmr12 - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    I loved when a reporter asked Sutter to assess the rangers. He said ‘Great defense, great forwards, great special teams, great goalie”. Then he mumbled something about catching a flight.

  14. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    Johnmr12. :)

  15. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    And I’m glad you didn’t mention the luck they had. Good job.

    • skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      Talk about luck?! Fleury played horribly and Price went out in Game 1. You haven’t faced a good goalie in over a month!

      • trueblue2000 - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:37 PM

        So you think Crawford is/was good? Had BH’s had a solid goalie Kings would have been done.

      • skr213 - Jun 3, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Are you kidding?? You think the Habs rookie backup compares to a guy who has actually lifted the Cup?? Further proof that you Ranger fans are just deluded.

  16. matt14gg - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Blasphemy I know, but this Bruins fan would like to see the Rangers win the Cup. That’s a gutty team, with some real character guys. I don’t really see it, but stranger things have happened.

  17. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Really Tokarski played well. Fleury had back to back shutouts. Can’t wait to see quick in his splits as the water bottle soars away..

  18. bleedrangerblue - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Geez no wonder Joey has an attitude.

  19. blomfeld - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    BLAH, BLAH, BLAH …

    positively ‘everyone’ who’s posted here above on this article is an ‘idiot’ and they should be referred to the nearest state/provincial mental health authority asap …

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