With the Stanley Cup Final set to get underway between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, much will be talked about regarding head to head match ups and who has the advantage. Right off the back is the Kings offense versus the Rangers defense. Los Angeles has compiled an impressive 73 goals in 21 games, averaging a league best 3.48 goals per game this postseason. New York’s defense ranks 2nd in fewest goals allowed, only giving up an average of 2.25 in 20 games. As for special teams, the Kings have 17 powerplay goals with a 25.4% conversion rate on the man advantage. ( L.A. Forward Jeff Carter is tied for most Powerplay goals this postseason with 4) New York has struggled on the powerplay, converting only 13.6% with the extra attacker. The Kings powerplay will not go untested however as New York also ranks 2nd in Penalties Killed with 85.9%, and it will be interesting to see how this match up shapes out with one of the top powerplay units takings on one of the top penalty killing units.
As evident of their offensive production, the depth chart of the L.A. Kings runs deep with nine players registering double digits in points scored. Heading into their match up with the Rangers, the Kings have five of the top ten point leaders thus far in the playoffs (1. Anze Kopitar- 24 points, 2. Jeff Carter- 22 points, 4. Marian Gaborik- 19 points, 5. Justin Williams- 18 points, 8. Drew Doughty- 16 points). The Rangers themselves have eight players that have reached double digits in points scored, but their top three, Martin St. Louis, Derek Stephan, and Ryan McDonagh, have just 13, not anywhere as productive as L.A.’s top scorers. New York will try to rely on its speed and as mentioned, their penalty kill in order to contain the Kings forecheck. Dan Girardi , (Ryan) McDonagh, and Marc Staal are all in the top 10 for most blocked shots this postseason (2. Girardi- 50, tied for 6th. Staal -41, 10. McDonagh- 40) and have been a key part a key part in the Rangers success in killing penalties. Los Angeles will need to counter this using their toughness. Kings forwards Dustin Brown and Jaret Stoll are ranked number one in two respectively for hits in the 2014 playoffs (Brown-104, Stoll 80)
Current King and former Ranger Marian Gaborik has made a huge impact for Los Angeles since being traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets back in March. In 19 regular season games with the Kings, Gaborik posted 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists). His 12 playoff goals are also a league best this postseason and seems to have found his stride playing alongside current postseason scoring leader Anze Kopitar. Gaborik was traded to Columbus in April of 2013 that sent Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore to the Rangers, all of whom are currently making their presence felt during New York’s run to the Stanley Cup Final this year.
Quick has been here before and was named the Conn Symthe Trophy winner for Playoff MVP en-route to the Kings Stanley Cup Championship in 2012. 2014 has been different for Quick, for as brilliant he is overall as a goaltender, he has struggled a bit at times during these playoffs. In 21 games played this postseason, Quick has given up 59 goals. If New York wants to have success against Los Angeles, they will need improve their powerplay rate by capitalizing on the man advantage and hope that they can rattle Quick and hope to get some lucky bounces and hops to go their way.
It seems fitting and ironic at the same time that a man nicknamed “The King” is taking on a team whose name happens to be the Kings! Henrik Lundqvist has performed statistically better than his counterpart Jonathan Quick. Lundqvist has given up 20 less goals, has a better Goals Against Average (2.03 vs Quick’s 2.86) and save percentage (.928% vs Quick’s .906%). The Rangers are going to need Lundqvist to keep performing at the same level and continue to rely on its strength from its defense to slow down the Kings offense.
Both teams are no stranger to adversity either. Los Angeles came back from a 3-0 series deficit in the 1st round against the San Jose Sharks, while the New York Rangers came back from a 3-1 hole against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that boosts a team with incredible offensive firepower. Will the Kings be able to reclaim Lord Stanley for the second time in three years, or will the Rangers bring the Stanley Cup back to New York for the first time in two decades?
Prediction: Kings in 7
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