Stanley Cup Finals 2014: Why Rangers Should Root for Blackhawks to Beat Kings

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Stanley Cup Finals 2014: Why Rangers Should Root for Blackhawks to Beat Kings
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The New York Rangers may not care who they play in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, but they should.

They'll face either the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings, whoever wins Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday. But the Blackhawks are who the Rangers should be rooting for.

New York prides itself on its defense. Only three teams surrendered fewer goals than the Rangers in the regular season. One of those teams was Los Angeles, which allowed the least.

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Matching strength against strength isn't the path of least resistance between the Rangers and Stanley Cup trophy. They split their season series with the Kings, 1-1, foreshadowing as to how a seven-game series between the two would pan out. It'd likely last seven games and be decided by a goal or two.

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The Blackhawks aren't nearly as defensively gifted. They surrendered just the 12th fewest goals in the regular season. In their three losses to Los Angeles this month, they've allowed 15 goals.

Chicago instead hangs its helmet on offense. Only one club scored more goals in the regular season. As talented as it is at putting the puck in the net, though, this is a more New York-friendly opponent than the Kings.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins were better on offense than defense as well. Philadelphia ranked eighth in the NHL in scoring and Pittsburgh fifth.

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The Rangers beat them both. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist wasn't inerrant, but he and New York only allowed the Flyers and Penguins to score more than two goals in two playoff games apiece.

The combination of the Rangers' shutdown defense and the Blackhawks' shaky one is why they're a less demanding opponent than Los Angeles.

New York was 2-0 against Chicago in the regular season. That wouldn't translate to a Stanley Cup sweep, let alone a championship period. But it makes it even more clear which team poses the greatest threat to the Rangers.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report and editor at Wade-O Radio.

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