Rangers vs. Kings: Analyzing Biggest Storylines Heading into Stanley Cup Final

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Rangers vs. Kings: Analyzing Biggest Storylines Heading into Stanley Cup Final
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

If entertainment is what you seek, look no further than the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

With two big-market, star-studded teams in the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings set to take the ice, rest assured there will be no shortage of fireworks.

As Game 1 approaches, a few intriguing developments have emerged.

Before this wildly intriguing series gets underway, let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines for this year's Stanley Cup.

 

2 Years vs. 20 Years

Noah Graham/Getty Images

"I swear by the moon and the stars in the sky, and I swear like the shadow that's by your side..."

The last time the Rangers earned a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, those lyrics were heard all over the radio, as "I Swear" by All-4-One topped Billboard's Hot 100 in June of 1994.

Here's a look back in time, courtesy of a tweet from Numbers Never Lie:

Conversely, the Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup after a 4-2 series victory against the New Jersey Devils just two years ago.

That vast difference of time between Stanley Cup Final appearances between these two teams could become a heavy factor in this year's series.

Over two-thirds of the current Kings team is made up of the same players who took part in the 2012 Final. On the other hand, New York isn't nearly as experienced of a team—especially in terms of competing in the Final.

The Rangers' biggest asset will be coach Alain Vigneault, who coached the Vancouver Canucks into the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Will experience triumph, or will this come-out-of-nowhere Rangers team force the upset?

 

Lundqvist's Time to Shine?

Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

Henrik Lundqvist is widely heralded as one of the NHL's great goaltenders.

The 32-year-old Swede holds plenty of team records, including regular-season wins (309), shutouts (50) and playoff wins (42).

ESPN Stats & Info tweeted Lundqvist's most recent achievement:

Over his illustrious career, Lundqvist earned a gold medal with Sweden's Olympic hockey team back in 2006; however, he's never been able to capture the Stanley Cup.

Could this finally be his year?

If the Rangers do emerge victorious, it should suffice to say Lundqvist would be the biggest reason for doing so.

He's been absolutely stellar throughout the playoffs, ranking first among all goaltenders with an 83.80 rating, according to TSN.ca.

Here's a great example of why Lundqvist tops the charts:

If he can keep up his current pace against a vastly improved Kings offense, Lundqvist may have to clear some space in his trophy room.

 

Let's Talk Defense

Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

Not only does this year's Stanley Cup Final feature a bevy of offensive talent and a pair of the league's best goalies, but each team also has an elite two-way defender.

Drew Doughty of the Kings and Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers are still relatively young (both are 24) but have already emerged as premier defensemen in the NHL.

Doughty has been special since entering the league. Over 442 games played, he has already accumulated 221 points, including 59 goals and 162 assists with an overall plus/minus rating of 36.

According to a tweet from NHL Public Relations, Doughty is ready to rumble:

McDonagh has played fewer games, but he's been equally as impressive. In 246 games played, he's accrued 103 points, including 26 goals and 77 assists with an overall plus/minus rating of 65.

The NHL tweeted McDonagh's statement about his team's camaraderie: 

They both have kept up that pace in this year's playoffs.

Through 21 games, Doughty has four goals and 12 assists, while McDonagh has three goals and 10 assists through 20 games.

Doughty and McDonagh are extremely stout defenders and—especially after looking at their above stats—are no strangers to massive production on the offensive end of the ice.

Both the Rangers and Kings have been extremely exciting in transition, and each of these players have been instrumental in that regard.

Watch as each of these players fly around the ice, further increasing the intensity of the Stanley Cup Final.

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