Kings Set To Reclaim The Throne

LA Kings & Rangers Clash - NHL
LA Kings are ready for a Rangers onslaught. Image courtesy of: Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers
Los Angeles, California
Thursday June 5 – 10:05 AM (AEST)

Rangers: WLWLW

After a thrilling overtime win (5-4) against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings stride into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals full of confidence. They go head-to-head with the New York Rangers , who comfortably beat the Montreal Canadians, dropping only two games to win the series 4-2. This is will be the first time the Kings and the Rangers have faced each other in a play-off series since 1981, and only the second time in history.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter will have to utilize the depth he has to compete with the speed of the Rangers. Throughout the series, Sutter has constantly rolled out four lines at a time, allowing him to get as much punch out of his players as possible. Marian Gaborik has been a revelation for the Kings. Being traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets in March, the right wing marksman is leading the league in goals in the post season. Adding to his already impressive tally of 11 goals in regular season, Gaborik has slotted 12 in the post season. Inside him is a man having a Conn Smythe Trophy-worthy campaign. Anze Kopitar has played three superstar centres in the play-offs and has outplayed every one of them. Drew Doughty is having a campaign to remember. Every game he goes from strength to strength, dominating in the middle and becoming the force the Kings need. Playing almost 29 minutes per game throughout the series against the Blackhawks, Doughty finished with three goals and four assists - pretty good numbers for a man who weighs over 100 kilos. A massive boost for the Kings will be if key defenseman Robyn Regehr can overcome a niggling knee injury to play in Game 1.

It’s all about speed for the Rangers and don’t they have plenty of it. Led by former MVP Martin St. Louis, they have the skill and the pace to create scoring chances from anywhere on the ice. Unlike most other franchises in the NHL, the Rangers don’t have just one superstar, they have multiple match-winners. Using everyone on the ice, they are so unpredictable because oppositions have to cover everyone, not just one player. Their play-off statistics mirror this; nobody has scored more than 13 goals, and eight players have at least 10. Their left side is probably the most dangerous, with Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin controlling the pace of the game the majority of the time. At the back, they have one of the most experienced goalies in the league. Henrik Lundqvist is in his 9th season and shows no sign of slowing down. Winning the Vezina Trophy (best goalie) back in 2012, he has only missed the play-offs once in his career (2010), a season which was ravaged by injury. If the Rangers need someone to fire, it’s Ryan McDonagh. Every season, he just gets reaches new heights. After dominating the series against the Canadians, McDonagh needs to use his size and speed to dictate the game the way he has been.

This is going to be finals series to remember. Rangers fans have not tasted success for 20 years and are sick of waiting. Kings fans still have 2012 fresh in their memories, but want to add another trophy to their cabinet.

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