Here's a quick look and analysis of the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals featuring the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings.
New York beat Philadelphia in seven games, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate Pittsburgh and got past Montreal in six games. The Kings rallied from 0-3 to beat San Jose, had a 3-2 deficit before winning two straight against Anaheim and won Game 7 in overtime at Chicago to eliminate the defending champions.
Tied 1-1. It has been nearly seven months since these teams played. Brad Richards scored twice, Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves and Ryan McDonagh scored a short-handed goal in the third period to help the Rangers win 3-1 at Los Angeles in October. Tyler Toffoli scored the only goal, and Jonathan Quick's previous backup, Ben Scrivens, shut out New York 1-0 in November on the road.
The Kings are expected to hoist the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons in part because they've proven to be as resilient as any team in any sport. Los Angeles is the first team in league history to win three Game 7s on the road in one postseason, a run that it started by becoming just the fourth NHL team to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. The Rangers turned a good regular season into their greatest stretch of success in the playoffs since winning the Cup in 1994, by rolling four lines and playing good defense in front of a great goaltender. New York might not be favored, but it can win any game or series with a trio such as Lundqvist, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and winger Martin St. Louis.
New York's key player
McDonagh. The two-way blue-liner is playing the best hockey of his career, leading the Rangers with 10 assists this postseason and tying St. Louis and Derek Stepan for the team lead with 13 points. The pride of St. Paul, Minnesota, proved he belonged on the ice with the best hockey players in the world at the Olympics.
L.A.'s key player
Jeff Carter. He bounced around a bit, getting traded in 2011 and 2012. Los Angeles is thankful he landed on its team. Carter has nine goals (trailing only Marian Gaborik's 12 in the NHL this postseason) and 22 points (just behind Anze Kopitar's 24) in 21 games. He did not always play up to his potential with the Flyers or for Columbus, but is producing a lot in the playoffs.
Schedule (times CDT)
Game 1, 7 p.m. Wednesday at Los Angeles; Game 2, 6 p.m. Saturday at Los Angeles; Game 3, 7 p.m. June 9 at New York; Game 4, 7 p.m. June 11 at New York; Game 5 (if necessary), 7 p.m. June 13 at Los Angeles; Game 6 (if necessary), 7 p.m. June 16 at New York; Game 7 (if necessary), 7 p.m. June 18 at Los Angeles.
Kings in 6.