As far as I’m concerned we have already seen the two best teams in the NHL play in this year’s post season, so everything else from here on out is pretty much just a formality. The Blackhawks and Kings did not disappoint, totally epic series. In related news, fuck you LA Kings.
Unfortunately, despite my firm belief that all teams other than original six teams don’t actually exist, the final series for Lord Stanley’s cup will see the Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Kings take on the Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers in what is bound to be a yawn fest of goalie v goalie.
How they got here
The LA Kings have had a finals run for the ages. No other team has ever played three game 7s to make it through to the final, all of which were road wins, the last of which came against my 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. The two prior series saw the Kings put away both San Jose and Anaheim in what were tough and physically demanding rounds against teams that were 5th and 2nd overall in the NHL at the end of the regular season.
The NY Rangers in comparison to the LA Kings have had a somewhat cruisy run to the final. The series versus the Flyers was as rough as everyone expected, the Pens suck, and Montreal seemed to just fall apart after their inspired win over the Bruins in the second round.
Who to watch for
For me, I expected Marian Gaborik of the LA Kings to have much more of an impact against the Blackhawks, but found he was surprisingly quiet. I doubt we will see the same thing this series when he comes up against his former team who traded him to Columbus before he wound up with the kings, expect him to start racking up the goals early if only to rub it in the faces of his past teammates.
Also expect Conn Smyth favourite D-Man Drew Doughty and (hot) Center Anze Kopitar to continue being as dangerous as they have been pervious rounds.
Jonathan Quick is tricky, when he is good, he is very very good. But when he has a meltdown, it can be spectacular. If the Rangers manage to rattle his cage enough for a meltdown, they could get away with a couple of wins this series. Quick rarely has difficulties two games in a row though so I doubt he will be the deciding factor.
For NY, Martin St. Louis will remain stoic as he plays for the Cup with his recently passed Mother on his mind. St.Louis, who was acquired by the Rangers this year has been brilliant since the loss of his mother, and his teammates have rallied around him and shown what a close team they are throughout. I expect this will continue to have some impact during the final series as the Rangers know what we know – they are the underdog.
Rick Nash seems to have found form as the post season progresses, NY will need him to be physical and accurate if they are to stand a chance against the Kings.
King Lundqvist. Need I say more. The Rangers will only stand a chance if he is nothing short of a brick wall.
So who ya got?
It is no secret that the Western Conference is a much deeper Conference and that the Kings had a much tougher task to make it to the finals. Their physically demanding run to the finals will likely show, and I expect them to drop a game early.
The times the Kings looked most vulnerable against the Blackhawks were when the Hawks forced the play to be speedy. If the Rangers, who are a very fast team, can keep the game fast and physical, it would definitely be an advantage to them.
Nonetheless, I have the LA Kings in 6.