It’s finally here! The Stanley Cup Final is upon us. From the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings have battled through the defending Cup champions and look for their second championship in three years. From the Eastern conference, the New York Rangers have been the perennial underdogs who find themselves in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in twenty years. With talented rosters and very different roads to reach the Cup Finals, the question is who has the edge? Both teams have been up and down this postseason and have been on the brink of elimination. Now we have the battle between Los Angeles and New York City to see who will be the Cup City. Let’s see how these two teams matchup.
Offense: The Rangers have relied on their speed and aggressiveness to manufacture goals this postseason. With clutch goal scoring at crucial times, the New York offense has scored when it needs it the most. However, despite their speed and ability to use their defense as a fourth forward in the zone, the Rangers still do not have the Kings fire power. The Rangers may distribute the scoring, but scoring leader Martin St. Louis has six goals while LA has four players with more than six goals. The Rangers have also struggled mightily on the power play while the Kings have been one of the best teams on the power play this postseason. The Rangers have been clutch, but with LA’s firepower including Marian Gaborik’s team leading 12 goals, the Kings are the better offensive team. Edge: Kings
Defense: Defense can win championships. LA has some of the most physical defensemen in the NHL. LA will have the physical edge over New York, but the Rangers defense is one of its biggest strengths. Not only does the Rangers defense have incredible speed, but their ability to block shots this postseason is a major reason why they are here. This defense has been great taking the pressure off of Lundqvist when it counts. In game six they held the Canadiens offense, one of the best in the league, to eighteen shots on goal for the whole game. With the fewest goals allowed this postseason the Rangers are hoping that the old saying that “defense wins championships” will work for them. Edge: Rangers
Goaltending: This is what will make or break the series for either team. . There is no question that both Quick and Lundqvist are two of the best if not the two best goaltenders in the NHL. With this being such a close call it is in my opinion that whoever has the best goaltending in this series will win the Cup. With that said, I am giving just the slightest edge in this competition to the Rangers. What? Is probably what most of you are saying. It’s understandable you’ll argue that Quick is younger, has a better post season record, and oh by the way a championship ring already. So why does Lundqvist get the edge? One word, consistency. When Quick is on he is the best goalie in hockey, no question. The problem? He has been maddeningly inconsistent. His 2.86 GAA and .906 save percentage is still far behind Lundqvist’s 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage. Lundqvist did have that terrible game 5 in Montreal, but when the Rangers have needed him most, he has answered the call. Quick has also played his best hockey when the Kings have been backed into a corner too, but part of the reason for that is his poor play in the beginning of some of those series. Jonathan Quick has given up more than four goals in a game five times this postseason. compared to Lundqvist’s four times. This battle is neck and neck and if Quick plays his best, he is better than Lundqvist. However, Lundqvist has more at stake than Quick and is more reliable than Quick this year. Edge: Rangers (Slight)
Conclusion: Rangers in Seven
This will be a close series. One lucky bounce or bad penalty could decide the who will be champ. The Kings do have home ice advantage, but the Rangers have played well on the road with a 6-4 away record. This will be a great series that will go at least six or seven games. While I won’t be surprised if the Kings win, especially with their experience and if Quick is on, the Rangers are my pick. With their clutch scoring, defense, and Lundqvist in the net I believe the Rangers have the slightest edge and will bring back the cup to New York for the first time in twenty years.