The Stanley Cup Final is one of the most exciting championship series in all of sports, and the 2014 edition of the NHL staple will be an incredible meeting between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings.
The Rangers stunned the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final and secured their spot in the championship series, but they will be met by a Kings team that was able to beat the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in a seven-game series.
While Rangers vs. Kings was an unlikely battle heading into the postseason, it will make for a very interesting series.
Here is the full schedule, TV information and predictions for the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
|Game 1||Wednesday, June 4||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC|
|Game 2||Saturday, June 7||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC|
|Game 3||Monday, June 9||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBCSN|
|Game 4||Wednesday, June 11||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBCSN|
|*Game 5||Friday, June 13||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC|
|*Game 6||Monday, June 16||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBC|
|*Game 7||Wednesday, June 18||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC|
Source: NHL.com. *If necessary.
Breaking Down New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings
If you predicted the New York Rangers squaring off against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final pat yourself on the back, because most fans and experts never expected this matchup.
The Kings are one of the best teams in the NHL and had the postseason experience to overcome all of the adversity thrown their way. Radio personality Tony Bruno described how unique the Kings’ journey to the championship has been:
La Kings first team in Cup history to win 3 game 7's on the road. Beat Hawks in OT and host the NY Rangers for the Cup. #StanleyCupPlayoffs— Tony Bruno (@TonyBrunoShow) June 2, 2014
Not only did Los Angeles beat Chicago in the Western Conference Final, but the team also managed to beat both the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks in what were amazing seven-game series.
Even on the brink of elimination, the Kings are incredibly tough to beat.
Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown spoke to reporters about the focus needed to beat Chicago and how his team came together and played as a cohesive unit:
It's just a trust system and a belief system within this room of a result of being together for hundreds of games together and climbing the hill once and trying to do it again. We know what to expect and we expect a lot from each other. And there's times when there's not nice things said to each other and it's all in the nature of motivating each other and motivating each other to be better. When you have guys that have been together you're capable of holding each other accountable and pushing to the next level.
CNN host Rachel Nichols mentioned how lucky the fans are to have great matchups in both the NHL and NBA Championship series:
How lucky are we? The NBA and NHL set for two great Finals. Heat-Spurs. Rangers-Kings. Let's go...— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 2, 2014
While the Kings deserves immense credit for their attempt to win the Stanley Cup, the Rangers deserve just as much respect for their unexpected run to the championship. With series victories over the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Canadiens, there is no discounting how hard the Rangers worked to get to this point.
But according to Tom Gulitti of The Record, New York should have mixed emotions about playing Los Angeles:
Rangers no doubt fine with watching Kings-Hawks go 7, but also have to know they'll have their work cut out for them with what they saw.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) May 31, 2014
The key to this series (as it is in every hockey matchup) is the performance of the goaltenders. With two of the best in the world today squaring off—Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick are bona fide studs—this series will come down to which team gives its netminder the best chance to succeed.
Protecting a goaltender means putting the best defensive unit on the ice to ensure that shots are kept to a minimum and that the scoring opportunities each goalie faces are easy to turn away.
For the offensive units in both Los Angeles and New York, solving the riddles of Quick and Lundqvist will be the difference between hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup and settling for a runner-up spot.
Predicted Series Winner: Los Angeles, 4-2
*Stats via NHL.com.