The 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs have lived up to the lofty expectations, but the excitement is only growing as the NHL heads into the marquee final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings.
The Rangers dominated the Eastern Conference en route to a Stanley Cup berth, but they will square off with a Kings franchise that has won each of its postseason matchups in 2014 in seven-game thrillers.
New York vs. Los Angeles has all the earmarks of going the distance as well.
Here is the full schedule, television information, odds and more for the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
|2014 Stanley Cup Final Schedule and Predictions|
|Game 1||June 4||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||Kings|
|Game 2||June 7||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||Kings|
|Game 3||June 9||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBCSN||Rangers|
|Game 4||June 11||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBCSN||Kings|
|*Game 5||June 13||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||Rangers|
|*Game 6||June 16||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBC||Kings|
|*Game 7||June 18||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||N/A|
|Source: NHL.com. *If necessary.|
Now that you've seen the schedule, here are the latest championship odds.
|2014 Championship Odds|
|Los Angeles Kings||100-153||-153|
|New York Rangers||139-100||+139|
What to Watch During New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings
While today’s hockey fans will be looking to the high-powered offenses of both New York and Los Angeles, the series will be won or lost by goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist.
There is no more important position in sports than netminder in the NHL, and the 2014 Stanley Cup will be determined by which of these two proven goalies performs better under championship pressure.
Mike Corcoran of KFFL.com knows how amazing this matchup could be:
Starting with Quick, the Kings have one of the best postseason goalies of the last decade. While he has struggled this year with consistency, he has come up huge in games that matter the most and helped lead Los Angeles to three Game 7 victories this year alone.
Add Quick’s Stanley Cup effort in 2012 with his 41 career postseason victories through his first five postseasons, and it is clear that the Kings netminder will be a valuable asset to his team throughout this series.
Quick spoke to Jay Cohen of The Associated Press, via MassLive.com, about the support of his team this season and how he trusts the players around him:
It's just a great group to be part of. I feel very fortunate to be with the guys. Obviously our journey's not done yet and we've got a lot of work here coming up. New York's an awesome team. They beat great teams, so they're battle-tested as well so we've got a lot to get ready for.
While Quick is elite, there may be no better goaltender in the NHL today than Lundqvist.
The problem for the Rangers has been the lack of consistency offensively to give Lundqvist the chance to steal the show. Add in issues along the blue line, and the Swedish goalie was never given a fair chance to shine.
With an improved defense and an offensive unit putting up points regularly, Lundqvist has managed to rack up an impressive 12 wins, 2.03 goals against average, a save percentage of .928 and one shutout.
As well as New York’s defense has played, the advantage in that category goes to Los Angeles. If Quick gets the better protection from his teammates and avoids too many open shots, the Kings will be able to knock off the Rangers.
On the other hand, a red-hot Lundqvist getting the protection in front of the crease will be bad news for the Western Conference champions.
Let the battle of the goaltenders begin.
Predicted Series Winner: Los Angeles, 4-2
*Stats via NHL.com.