Vezina Candidates and NHL All-Stars Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) and Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) look to move on to a Stanley Cup Final.
Hockey scholars posed two questions after the first games of the Western and Eastern Conference finals.
The Phoenix Coyotes failed to answer the first: Can any team slow down the Kings? Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick shut out the Coyotes in Game 2 while forward Jeff Carter tripled his postseason goal production with a hat trick.
The New Jersey Devils answered the second: Can any Devil player score on Henrik Lundqvist? Indeed. Devils' forward Ilya Kovalchuk sent a wicked wrister over the glove side shoulder of Lundqvist to open the scoring of a 3-2 New Jersey victory in Game 2.
The Kings are hotter than Kate Upton's last photo shoot, losing only one playoff game in 11 tries and outscoring the snake-bitten Coyotes 7-2 through the first two games of the Western Conference finals.
Many considered the Rangers a favorite to lift the Cup before the puck even dropped on the 2012 NHL Playoffs. Despite a postseason littered with bad losses, the Rangers remain a favorite to move on to the East vs. West showdown.
A Rangers vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final seems almost hard not to imagine at this juncture. However, in the words of award-winning country musician Darius Rucker, "Anything's possible."
A Coyotes/Devils series seems unlikey, but would be an low-scoring, defensive battle.
The Phoenix Coyotes outlasted the high scoring Chicago Blackhawks in the first round thanks to stellar play by Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith and average play by Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.
The Coyotes advanced to face the Nashville Predators in Round 2. Phoenix's defense outmatched the stingy Predators to secure a trip to the Western Conference finals.
The Devils looked very beatable in an opening-round series against the Florida Panthers but quickly disposed of the high-scoring Philadelphia Flyers in the second round
In a seven-game Stanley Cup Final between the 'Yotes and Devils, Marty Brodeur wins it for NJ.
Forwards: New Jersey Devils
The Coyotes boast tremendous depth but lack game-changing forwards like the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.
Defense: New Jersey Devils
The Coyotes defense is good; it's no mistake the team made it this deep into the postseason. However, few teams play a tighter defensive system than the Devils.
Goaltending: New Jersey Devils (Barely.)
Though Mike Smith is a huge reason the Coyotes are playing for a trip to the fnals, Martin Brodeur is still Martin Brodeur.
In this improbable matchup, Marty takes home his fourth Stanley Cup.
A Rangers/Coyotes series: Talk about David vs. Goliath.
This matchup seems unlikely with Phoenix already down 2-0 in their series and without a plan to stop LA.
However, if a Rangers/Coyotes matchup happened, there is almost no doubt the Rangers would walk away with the franchise's first Stanley Cup since Mike Richter tended net and Mark Messier wore the "C."
The only disadvantage on the Rangers' side is the fact that they've played so many games this postseason. New York went seven games with the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals each, and the Eastern Conference final doesn't look like it will be a short one.
Forwards: New York Rangers
Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik serve as only the tip of the iceberg. The Rangers possess tremendous depth that outmatches the Coyotes on almost every level.
Defense: New York Rangers
Luckily for New York, Marc Staal appears to be back in true form. Along with Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers' defense is solid.
Goaltending: New York Rangers
Though he's played more games than any other goaltender this postseason, Henrik Lundqvist has showed no sign of fatigue in net for the Blueshirts.
Sorry, Phoenix. It was fun while it lasted, but at least you're staying in the desert!
Marty Brodeur may have met his match.
It's hard to imagine anyone slowing down the Kings right now, but the seemingly impenetrable defense of New Jersey may pose the biggest threat yet.
The Kings have more balanced scoring and better offense from the blue line, but the Devils easily handled the Philadelphia Flyers, a team very comparable to the Kings.
In a seven-game series, the Kings have the edge simply because they've been so incredibly dominant in these playoffs, but the Devils might be able to actually make it a series.
Forwards: Los Angeles Kings
Contrary to popular belief from the regular season, the Kings are deadly up front. Jeff Carter woke up for Game 2, joining an already streaking Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. The Devils lack significant offensive stars after Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.
Defense: New Jersey Devils
The Los Angeles Kings defense has done a phenomenal job of backing up goaltender Jonathan Quick this postseason, but the Devils' team defense outmatches the Kings.
Goaltending: Los Angeles Kings (Barely.)
Quick has been the best goaltender this postseason. He would face the legendary Martin Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner. However, the way Quick is playing right now, it's hard to see any NHL goaltender outplaying him.
Again, it's hard to believe any team can slow down the Kings right now, even the defensively sound Devils.
The likely matchup for the 2012 Stanley Cup: Broadway vs. Hollywood.
Perhaps the most intriguing and likely matchup for the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers versus the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings from the West.
This series comes down to the goaltenders. Both Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist have been spectacular for their respective teams in net.
The edge goes to the Kings because of the roads taken. As the last seed in the Western Conference, the Kings took down the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks and the second-seeded St. Louis Blues in a combined nine games.
Conversely, the Rangers were pushed to the brink of elimination by both the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators and the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals. The Kings have been more consistent this postseason compared to the off-and-on Rangers.
The Kings lineup boasts several potential game-changers, while the Rangers rely primarily on Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. However, both teams possess tremendous depth.
The Rangers defense is extremely well equipped and balanced. However, the Kings defense showed their shutdown ability against the Canucks and haven't faltered at all these playoffs.
It's hard to pick a winner here as both goaltenders have played tremendously throughout the postseason. Quick has the lead in all statistical categories for goaltenders, but Henrik Lundqvist has already showed resilience in winning two Game 7s.
Who gets to win with two teams so evenly matched?
The Los Angeles Kings, because of their sheer dominance this postseason.
For the first time in franchise history, the Stanley Cup may be on its way to the sandy beaches of Hollywood.