The NHL playoffs are considered by many to be the most exciting postseason in sports, and the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings is a matchup worthy of the championship series.
Both New York and Los Angeles possess the skill in the offensive zone to do serious damage, but each team also boasts one of the best goaltenders in the league, one protected by sturdy defensive units.
Here is the full schedule, television information and a prediction for the marquee series.
|2014 Stanley Cup Final Schedule|
|Game 1||June 4||Kings defeated Rangers, 3-2||--||--|
|Game 2||June 7||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
|Game 3||June 9||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBCSN||NBC Live Extra|
|Game 4||June 11||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBCSN||NBC Live Extra|
|*Game 5||June 13||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
|*Game 6||June 16||Los Angeles at NY Rangers||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
|*Game 7||June 18||NY Rangers at Los Angeles||NBC||NBC Live Extra|
|Source: NHL.com. *If necessary.|
*Live stream via NBC Live Extra.
Breaking Down New York vs. Los Angeles
New York and Los Angeles are the two largest markets in the United States, and the marquee battle on the ice between the Rangers and the Kings for the 2014 Stanley Cup is the kind of matchup that the league dreams about.
Los Angeles earned home-ice advantage in this series, and it made a huge difference in Game 1, as the Kings were able to put favorable matchups on the ice. With New York unable to find any offensive rhythm after starting the game with two early goals, the home team never took its foot off the throttle.
Even with a portion of an overtime period, Los Angeles managed to outshoot the Rangers 43-27.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun about the non-stop attack of the Kings and how his team folded in the third period:
I mean, they come at you hard. When you make a play, you got to be willing to take the hit to make the play. That's something we knew coming into the series. I thought for 40 minutes we handled it real well. Not quite sure what happened in the third there.
ESPN’s John Buccigross talked about just how dominant Los Angeles was shooting the puck in Game 1:
In the third period alone, the Kings outshot New York 20-3. Regardless of how well a star netminder like Henrik Lundqvist plays, the lack of offensive support will render his effort meaningless.
The Rangers must focus the game plan on getting stagnant forwards like Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards involved and motivated. If these players don’t find a rhythm and solve the tough riddle of Jonathan Quick in net for Los Angeles, this series will not go the distance.
With a strong defense led by Drew Doughty and an offensive unit getting contributions from across the depth chart, the Kings have the advantage in all facets of the game and will not relinquish the series lead.
Series Prediction: Los Angeles wins, 4-2
*Stats via NHL.com.