The New York Rangers were able to win the Eastern Conference Championship, but they will face their toughest test of the postseason against the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
With an exciting mix of offensive depth, defensive talent and elite goaltending, both teams have made a huge impact on the postseason and will be looking to finish their run by hoisting the Stanley Cup trophy.
Here is all the vital viewing information needed to enjoy the playoffs, the latest championship odds and the keys to victory for each team.
|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|
Keys to Victory for the New York Rangers
The New York Rangers had to fight hard throughout the postseason to make it to the Stanley Cup Final, but they are still not getting the respect they deserve.
Despite beating Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Montreal en route to the championship round, New York is not being given a chance by many experts against Los Angeles. Once again, the Rangers will be entering a series with the underdog mentality.
ESPN’s Michelle Beadle made her prediction for the Stanley Cup:
As Tom Gulitti of The Record stated on Twitter, the Rangers must understand the magnitude of the situation:
New York needs top scorers like Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards to step up in the championship, and players like Rick Nash, who has contributed little thus far, have to pull their weight now.
With a bona fide star in net like Henrik Lundqvist—the goaltender can singlehandedly win a series if he is given the proper defensive protection—the Rangers have all the weapons to push the Kings to their limit.
For New York to win the Stanley Cup, the offense must steal the show on the grandest stage.
Keys to Victory for the Los Angeles Kings
While there is no doubt that Los Angeles needs consistent offensive pressure, steady defensive play and a big performance from goaltender Jonathan Quick, the true key to the success of the Kings will be how well the roster plays as a team.
After forcing and winning three consecutive Game 7 situations—Los Angeles beat San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago in thrilling fashion—the Kings have come together as a brotherhood and will again go to war for the final time this postseason.
Los Angeles will leave everything on the ice, and Kings captain Dustin Brown spoke to reporters, per ESPN.com, about how the cohesiveness of the locker room has helped the team come together on the ice:
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.
He leads a core of players who will be looking to solve the riddle of Lundqvist. Not only will star players like Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik need to provide key contributions, but the role players on the roster must also step up and give Los Angeles the edge.
The strong defense led by Drew Doughty will do enough to protect Quick from the Rangers' offensive onslaught, and the pressure will be on the Kings offense. With so much depth and skill, Los Angeles will sneak away with the series victory.
Predicted Series Winner: Los Angeles, 4-2
*Stats via NHL.com.