The stage is set for a finals that the NHL was hoping to see sooner than later…East vs West, Broadway vs Hollywood, Tupac vs Biggie…LA Kings vs NY Rangers. We have the two biggest marquee cities in America (don’t quote me on this, I’m Canadian but I’m pretty sure they are) ready to face off for the prestigious Lord Stanley.
My preview of the series will be broken down in 3 quick points: Forwards, Defense and Goalies.
LA: Hands down have the most complete group of forwards in the playoffs this year (you can make an argument for the Bruins offensive core but they got eliminated in the 2nd round so there’s that). With centres like Kopitar, Carter, Stoll and Mike Richards, any coach would dream to have 4 lines being centred by the names previously mentioned. 3 out of 4 of those players could easily be a top 6 centre on any other team. Somehow…someway LA made it happen and it is working in their favour thus far.
NYR: On the other hand, do not have the same luxury as the LA Kings but they do boast a more than decent offensive core with really great puck cycling in the other teams’s zone. They have been somewhat productive in the playoffs which helped them earn a shot to hoist the Stanley Cup.
They play physical, 4 lines that never let up, have a serious forecheck and big bodies able to crash the net and disturb the goalie. NYR do not match up line for line against LA, they need their top players to not hit a scoring slump during this series and will have to get much needed help from their 3rd and 4th line if they want to get blow for blow against the Kings.
LA: Two words…Drew Doughty. If not the best defensemen in the league…he’s certainly top 2. He’s the anchor of the Kings defensive core, logs big minutes and does everything a player of his caliber is suppose to do to help his team strive.
NYR: Ryan McDonagh has been steadily holding the fort for the Rangers defensive core (13 points in 20 playoff games). They do not have a Doughty-like player on any of their pairings but collectively they all compliment each other and really put a emphasis on “team defense”.
LA: Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe winner…Jonathan Quick has all the intangibles one would expect from a top goaltender…plays outside of his crease a lot and has a lot of confidence in his lateral movement to cover the space needed…a little scary but he gets the job done.
NYR: King Henrik finally makes it to the final dance. Very poise, stays deep in his crease and believes in his ability to make the save, even if it means to do something unorthodox (If you watched the series against the Habs you’ll know what I’m talking about) One problem with King Henrik is when he’s off his game…he’s really OFF his game…it’s like playing NHL14 on pro mode, he has late reactions and gives up questionable goals.
I do like King Henrik and I believe he is the reason the Rangers are where they are because he’s put the team on his back for the most part of the playoffs but you cannot discredit what Quick has done in the past and what he’s done so far in the playoffs (all 3 series been to game 7…nuff said).
LA have been battle tested throughout the playoffs, they’ve seen every scenario possible, fatigue could play a factor in this series but it is nothing new to them. They’ve won the Cup a few seasons ago so they know what it takes to come out on top.
NYR will have to bring everything they got to win this series…King Henrik has to keep playing how he’s been playing thus far and better (if it’s even possible) scoring cannot go Casper the friendly ghost…consistency willhave to be the Rangers best friend if they want Lord Stanley to hit up Starlets this summer.