NHL Stanley Cup Final Preview: New York Rangers vs Los Angeles Kings
2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Stanley Cup Final
New York Rangers vs Los Angeles Kings
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Kings -165 / Rangers +145
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks
Game #1 – Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Staples Center – Los Angeles, California
Opening Line: Los Angeles -160 / New York +140
Current Line: Los Angeles -155 / New York +135
Opening Total: under 5 -110 / over 5 -110
Current Total: under 5 -120 / over +100
The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings meet for the Stanley Cup starting Wednesday night in LA. It is the first time two teams from the nation’s two largest cities meet for the championship of a major sport since the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1981 World Series.
New York is in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since they won the Cup in 1994. Los Angeles is making their second trip in three years after winning the Cup in 2012.
The two teams split the two regular season meeting with each winning on the road. However, both games happened early in the season before Thanksgiving. New York won in LA 3-1 October 7. The Kings returned the favor 1-0 in New York November 17.
The Rangers finished second in the Metropolitan Division with 96 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. New York beat the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers then upset the Penguins in the second round, despite being down 3-1 in the series. New York took a 3-1 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals, and would win the series in six games including 1-0 in the clincher Thursday night. It was the first time the Rangers won a postseason series that didn’t go the full seven games since 2009.
The Kings finished third in the Pacific Division with 100 points behind the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. Los Angeles was down 3 games to none in the first round against the Sharks, but the Kings became the fourth team in NHL history to comeback from an 0-3 deficit to win the series. LA would then play their SoCal rivals, the Ducks in the second round. Anaheim took a 3-2 series lead but the Kings would win that series in seven games as well. In the Western Conference Finals, the Kings faced the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a rematch of last year’s WCF where Chicago won in 5 games. However, this year, LA took a 3-1 series lead. The Blackhawks would win 2 straight games to force game seven in Chicago Sunday night. Los Angeles took a 5-4 overtime win to become the first team in NHL history to win three game sevens on the road in order to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
New York is coached by Alain Vigneault. The Rangers are 57-39-3-3 this season and the total was 30-41-11 during the regular season. Los Angeles is coached by Darryl Sutter. The Kings are 58-37-2-6 this season and the total was 22-41-19 during the regular season.
In the playoffs, New York is outscoring teams 2.70-2.25. The Rangers are outshooting teams 29.4-28 in the playoffs. New York is 11 for 81 on the power play during the playoffs (13.6%). New York has allowed three short handed goals and scored one. The Rangers are at 85.9% on the penalty kill and have allowed 9 power play goals. New York is 47.5% on face-offs.
New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist has a 2.03 goals against average in the playoffs with a save percentage of .928. He has allowed 39 goals and faced 543 shots. Lundqvist has an 12-7 record in the playoffs with one shutout. Back-up goalie Cam Talbot has a 2.59 GAA with a save percentage of .846. He has allowed 2 goals in 13 shots faced in two games in the playoffs. He is questionable for undisclosed reasons for game one. It isn’t clear who will be the back-up if Talbot can’t play as he and Lundqvist are the only goalies on the roster. They could call up someone from the minors.
Right wing Martin St. Louis has 13 points with 6 goals and 7 assists. Center Derek Stepan has 13 points with 8 assists. He suffered a broken jaw in the Montreal series but only missed one game. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh has 13 points with 10 assists. Right wing Mats Zuccarello has 11 points with 7 assists. Center Brad Richards has 5 goals and 6 assists. Left wing Carl Hagelin has 10 points with 6 goals. LW Rick Nash has 10 points with 7 assists. Left wing Chris Kreider has 10 points with 6 assists. Center Derick Brassard has 9 points with 5 goals in the playoffs. Left wing Benoit Pouilot has 8 points with 5 assists. LW Daniel Carcillo is suspended until at least game four after elbowing an official in the Montreal series. Defenseman John Moore is suspended for two games for a late hit in game five against the Canadiens. He can come back for Saturday’s game two.
Los Angeles is outscoring teams 3.48-2.86 in the playoffs. The Kings are averaging 30.7 shots per game and opponents average 30.3 per game. The Kings are 17 for 67 on the power play (25.4%) in the playoffs. They have allowed one shorthanded goal. LA is 81.2% on the penalty kill and has allowed 15 power play goals. The Kings have won 52.9% of face-offs in the postseason.
Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick has a goals against average of 2.86 in the playoffs with a save percentage of .906. He has allowed 59 goals in 628 shots faced with one shutout. Quick is 12-9 in the playoffs so far. During practice yesterday, Quick took a puck in his neck/shoulder area. It was originally feared he might have broken his collarbone, but x-rays were negative. He is listed as probable. Martin Jones is the back-up if by some slim chance Quick can’t go.
LA Center Anze Kopitar leads all scorers in the playoffs with 24 points including 19 assists. Center Jeff Carter has 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points. Right wing Marian Gaborik has 19 points and leads the playoffs in goals with 12. Right wing Justin Williams (7 goals, 11 assists) has 18 points. Defenseman Drew Doughty has 16 points with 12 assists. Center Tyler Toffoli has 13 points with 7 goals. Left Wing Tanner Pearson has 12 points with 8 assists. Defenseman Jake Muzzin has 11 points with 5 goals. Defenseman Robyn Regehr is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
New York is 5-0 after the opponent scores 5 goals or more in the previous game, 4-0 on three days rest, 4-1 in road games and against teams with winning home records, 11-3 in Wednesday games, 7-2 in against teams with winning records and overall, and 19-7 after scoring 2 goals or less. The under is 3-1-1 in this series overall and 4-0-2 in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is 6-0 against Metropolitan Division teams, 5-0 against Eastern Conference teams, 23-8 in Wednesday games, 20-7 after a win, 8-3 on two days rest, 54-26 at home, and 2-7 after the opponent allows 2 goals or less in the previous game.
This has been an amazing transformation for the Kings during the playoffs. They came in to the playoffs as the lowest scoring team among the 16 playoff qualifyers. They relied on their defense and the stellar play of Quick, That was the formula that won them the Cup in 2012. However, in this year’s playoffs the Kings have become an explosive offensive team and Quick has struggled by his standards. Of course, that might have something to do with playing three of the best scoring teams in the NHL in San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago. Lundqvist has been incredible though and is the main reason why the Rangers are even here. New York has to keep these games low scoring like 2-1 or less. They simply don’t have the fire power to get into a shootout with the Kings. I don’t think they can. I like the Kings to win game one and the series in 5 games.
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