Tale Of The Tape: Los Angeles Kings Vs. New York Rangers
- Road To The Cup46-28-8 record through the regular season, 100 points, 3rd place in Pacific Division, three consecutive Game 7s in playoff series (San Jose, Anaheim, Chicago), overcame a 3-0 deficit in 1st round against Sharks, recovered from 3-2 deficit against Ducks.45-31-6 record through the regular season, 96 points, 2nd place in Metropolitan Division, two game 7s in playoffs (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh), Game 6 win against Montreal.
- In The NetJonathan Quick. He's been here before. However, he needs to restore his form from the 2012 Cup run. Quick has had four games in which he has allowed four goals, two games where he allowed five, and one in which the Sharks scored seven goals on him. Seven. He will have to keep his momentum going from the West finals.Henrik Lundqvist. There's no denying it. He's one of, if not THE, best on the ice. The biggest threat to the Kings is Lundqvist's tendency to shut down an offense early in a series. Lundqvist stopped 55 of 58 shots in the East final's first two games, giving New York a 2-0 lead. If he can be lights out in at least one of the first two games in LA, the Rangers will be on high ground.
- Offensive AttackThe Kings have scored a league-best 73 goals in 21 post-season games. During the regular season, they scored 206 goals in 82 games. Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter lead the scoring game, with Marian Gaborik contributing 12 playoff goals. Jake Muzzin has five goals and Alec Martinez and Drew Doughty each have four. The Kings have a tendency to explode on offense when trailing in a series, which provides some insurance to keep up if the defense is slow to start.The Rangers' efficiency on the power play is downright dangerous, with a solid 55-for-64 success rate. Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, and Carl Hagelin have combined for 17 goals, even while their core is not as deep as LA's.
- CoachDarryl Sutter is in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time, winning the cup with the Kings in 2012 and falling in seven games with Calgary in 2004. Sutter knows how to utilize his players, and has every tool he needs to get the job done, considering his team's talent. Sutter will have a plan for a strengthened defense as he looks for his second cup in three years.Alain Vigneault not only salvaged a run-down team from John Tortorella, he invigorated it. the 53-year-old has spent 24 years as a coach (10 in the NHL), to two years as a player. His veteran lineup will play hard for him, and they have complete confidence in his leadership, after recovering from a difficult start to the 2013-14 season to bring the team to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 20 years.
- Home IceWith the Lakers in the middle of an evident free-fall of doom, and the Dodgers just now starting to come into their own, the Kings have been LA's claim to success in pro sports over recent years. The LA Kings car flags are everywhere, and the largest market in the west helped propel the viewership of the team's Game 7 win over Chicago to unprecedented levels (4.1 million viewers on NBCSN).Most New York fans will tell you that they never considered LA to be a hockey town, with historically successful franchises like the Lakers and Dodgers. However, that is only because New York has a slight edge, as far as support. While Game 7 between the Kings and Blackhawks achieved new viewership heights, less than 5 percent of homes in LA were tuned in, with a reported 23 percent of homes in Chicago watching the game.
There's little doubt that the series could prove to be a close one. While both teams bring impressive potential to the ice, the Kings go into the series with an edge, based primarily out of experience. That is not to say the veteran club New York is putting on the ice is unprepared, however. Most observers will say, and we agree, that the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals will likely go at least six games before a champion is crowned.