Kings Vs. Rangers: Stanley Cup Preview

Kings Vs. The King

Kings Vs. The King

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.

Rangers need the king to win the ring

Henrik will be the key for the blue shirts

Henrik will be the key for the blue shirts

You could feel the tension at Madison Square Garden in-game six of the Eastern Conference Finals. After an embarrassing loss in-game five with the possibility of a game seven in Montreal was now looming over the Rangers and their fans. The man with the most pressure took his place between the iron pipes and for sixty minutes proved once again why he is the backbone to the Rangers playoff success.

After being pulled after 4 goals on 16 shots in Montreal in-game five, it was understandable that Rangers nation was uneasy when Henrik Lundqvist took his place in net for game six. However, as the Rangers now head to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in twenty years, the Rangers know they have Lundqvist on the right track. True, there have been some hiccup games with poor performances during these playoffs, but when the Rangers have needed him most in crunch time Lundqvist has come through. For the New York Rangers to hoist the Cup, Lundqvist will need to be in top form.

Big saves, like this one the the second period, have propelled Rangers this postseason

Big saves, like this one in the second period, have propelled Rangers this postseason

There is no question that Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. With the victory over the Canadiens he now has the most wins for a Rangers goaltender in the playoffs with 42. Unfortunately, when you’re the king you need a ring. If Lundqvist wants to be a Hall of Famer or one of the best goaltenders in NHL history he needs to win a championship. These playoffs Lundqvist has been great with a 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage.  Still, Lundqvist is 42-44 in the postseason. Not exactly a great record for one of the games best. While Lundqvist needs the Cup to cement his legacy, the Rangers need him to be in top form. With an aggressively fast offense that gambles and doesn’t feature a great deal of firepower in terms of goal scorers, strong goaltending is key. Whether it’s Chicago’s explosive offense or facing the Kings Jonathan Quick, no matter who the Rangers play they will need Lundqvist at his peak. While game five might have been a fluke, if Henrik Lundqvist can build on his game six performance, the question won’t be if but when the Rangers hoist the cup!