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NHL Stanley Cup Final preview: Rangers versus Kings

Can Henrik Lundqvist carry the Rangers one more round?
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

I am quite looking forward to this Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers, and not just because before the season I predicted these two teams would square off for the Cup. Sure, that makes me look like a super genius, but this isn't about me. This is about the two teams that have made their way through the postseason to arrive at this point. The Kings are looking for their second Cup in three years. The Rangers are looking for their first since 1994. I don't think either of these teams are the best in their conference, but they are both in the top three, and I think they are both very good teams. However, only one team shall hoist the Cup. Who shall it be?

The Kings have really had to claw to get to this point. In the first round, they fell behind three games to none to the Sharks, but then beat San Jose in seven. Then, the Anaheim Ducks took them to seven games as well. Against a tremendous Chicago Blackhawks team, Los Angeles got up three games to one, but, again, had to eke out the series in seven games. The Kings have played 21 games in this postseason, including many overtimes. That's a lot of hockey.

The Rangers haven't exactly had it easier. They've played in 20 games, and they have had to take down some tough teams as well. The Flyers, Penguins, and Canadiens were all felled by New York en route to the finals. However, New York has also had to deal with injuries and suspensions, something that hasn't really hindered the Kings thus far. That's worth consideration.

Los Angeles clearly is the better team, to me, offensively. Four of the top five scorers in this postseason are Kings, including Anze Kopitar who leads the postseason with 24 points. No Ranger ranks higher than being tied for 15th in scoring, with a few guys having 13 points. The Kings have more offensive talent. They also have Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik and young guys like Tyler Toffoli are contributing. Drew Doughty has been great from the blueline. The Kings are also good at puck possession. The Kings should control play to some degree. The question is whether or not that will be enough.

For, you see, the Kings will have to deal with Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is leading the postseason with a .928 save percentage. He's been outstanding, and he's led the Rangers this far. New York has good players defensively, and they have been known for their shot blocking, but Lundqvist's play really rules the day. Meanwhile, which Jonathan Quick has had some good runs of play in his career, he is still sort of coasting on his Conn Smythe winning performance. This year, he has a .906 SV%. That's not good. It hasn't stopped the Kings thus far, but could it haunt them here? If Lundqvist isn't letting in more than a goal or two a game, and your goalie is letting in two or three, that's a problem.

So, in essence, it's the Kings' potent offense versus the Rangers' goal prevention, and more specifically Lundqvist. Can Los Angeles solve King Henrik? If they do, the will win the series almost certainly. If not, then they won't. It is as simple as that to me. The Kings also have home-ice advantage, which isn't worth nothing.

Before the year, I took the Rangers to win it all, largely based upon my believe in Lundqvist. However, this Kings team is very good, and Quick's play could easily improve. It shall be close, and I think Los Angeles ends up playing maximum games. However, it will end up being worth it when they win it all again. Kings in seven

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