The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings are ready to take part in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, and while it's the first time the Rangers have appeared in the finals in 20 years, this team looks ready to compete for a championship.
Henrik Lundqvist is on top of his game, and head coach Alain Vigneault is pushing his team to their limits—both offensively and defensively.
The Kings are looking to win their second Stanley Cup in three years behind the incredible play of goaltender Jonathan Quick. Quick has dominated Game 7s in recent memory, so it will be interesting to see if these two teams give Quick an opportunity to dominate another.
This series can go either way depending on the mental acuity of the parties involved.
Below are the Vegas odds for the series, as well as my own personal game-by-game picks.
Odds are courtesy of Odds Shark on June 3.
|2014 Stanley Cup Odds|
|Los Angeles Kings||+255|
|New York Rangers||+162|
|2014 Stanley Cup Schedule and Predictions|
|1||Wed., June 4||8 p.m.||LA||NY||NBC||Kings|
|2||Sat., June 7||7 p.m.||LA||NY||NBC||Kings|
|3||Mon., June 9||8 p.m.||NY||LA||NBCSN||Rangers|
|4||Wed., June 11||8 p.m.||NY||LA||NBCSN||Rangers|
|5*||Fri., June 13||8 p.m.||LA||NY||NBC||Kings|
|6*||Mon., June 16||8 p.m.||NY||LA||NBC||Rangers|
|7*||Wed., June 18||8 p.m.||LA||NY||NBC||Rangers|
|NHL.com; Kenny DeJohn|
The Rangers are a team more than capable of overcoming a slow start to win a series. That's exactly what happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After going down 3-1 in the series, the Rangers rallied back to take the series.
Then, they took down the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Montreal Canadiens were a true test, but the Rangers won in six games.
While resting since last Thursday might help the team get fresh legs underneath them, there are some rust questions that may come along. It seems the Rangers will start off slow and drop a game or two early before turning it on in Games 3 and 4.
Brad Richards is welcoming the rest, as he told the Associated Press the rest will allow his teammates to regroup, via ESPN.com:
We are welcoming the rest, and regrouping. We've played a lot of hockey since March 1. It's good for our team, but whether it's an advantage or not, I don't know.
We'd rather go in with a little more rest and preparation than not.
Regardless of the rest, the Rangers won't go quietly in this series. Even if they start slow, this team is equipped with the weapons necessary to compete. Lundqvist won't let his team go down without a fight.
This matchup has all the makings of a seven-game affair. The Kings play a ton of Game 7s and the Rangers are no stranger to do-or-die affairs either.
The contest figures to be a back-and-forth series which will see the Kings take the first two games before the Rangers storm back and grab the next two.
Then, they teams will go game-for-game until Game 7.
In a battle of Quick against Lundqvist, the winning team will be decided by the goaltender who makes the fewest mistakes. Despite Quick's recent playoff success, there are few goalies in the NHL you would rely on more than Lundqvist.
The Rangers will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup after seven grueling games.