After 20 postseason games for the New York Rangers and 21 for the Los Angeles Kings, we are left with these two squads set to fight for the Stanley Cup starting on Wednesday.
The Rangers knocked out the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games, the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven and finally the the Montreal Canadiens in six games. New York caught a huge break in the Eastern Conference Finals when the Habs’ goaltender Carey Price was injured in game one. With Price out, the Rangers had a clear edge between the pipes, and Henrik Lundqivst was great posting a 2.15 GAA and .922 SV% in the six games. He holds the best SV% (.928) and second best GAA (2.03) in the playoffs. Through the first three rounds the blueshirts have been led by Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh who each have 13 points.
As for the Kings, in the first round they came back from 3-0 down to beat the San Jose Sharks in seven. In the second round, it was another seven games series as they knocked out their California rival from Anaheim. Last night the Kings finished the Blackhawks off in seven as well, in what was one of the most exciting series I’ve seen in awhile.
Jonathan Quick had a tough time against the high-powered Blackhawks, posting a 3.11 GAA and .889 SV%, but the Kings 28 goals overshadowed the Kings defensive issues.
Offensively, the Kings have Marian Gaborik, who is leading the postseason in goals (12) and Anze Kopitar who leads the playoffs with 19 assists and 24 points. Kopitar, Gaborik, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams have combined for 83 points in 21 games and each rank in the top five in playoff points. However, it is Drew Doughty who is they key for the Kings. He leads all defensemen in playoff points with 16 (4G / 12A) and is a plus-5 despite playing close to 28 minutes a night against the oppositions’ best players.
The Kings and Rangers split the season series, with New York taking the first game 3-1 and then Los Angeles shutting the Rangers out at home 1-0 in November.
The Kings are making their second finals appearance in three seasons and first since they won the Stanley Cup in 2012. The Rangers are making their first appearance since they won the 1994 Stanley Cup in seven games vs. Vancouver.
Seeing as how all three of Los Angeles’ series have gone to seven games and New York has seen two of three go the distance, you have to like the chances of this series going to seven as well. These two teams stack up very nicely against each other. Both teams have elite goaltending, a deep group of forwards and a strong mix of offensive and defensive defensemen. Ultimately, I think this series will boil down to goaltending and with the way the Kings are scoring right now, the pressure is on King Henrik. The Kings appear to be the team with more offensive punch, so I like Los Angeles in seven.