Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 3 vs. NY Rangers
October 7, 2013
7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
This was supposed to be the scenario this time last year. Unfortunately due to the lockout, the Los Angeles Kings weren't going to open their home-season schedule against the New York Rangers. Worse, they had to wait to raise their Stanley Cup banner to the rafters.
While the Kings won't be raising any banners this time, their home-opener against the Rangers certainly doesn't lack any excitement.
While the two clubs certainly aren't rivals, there has been plenty of discussion in regards to which team has the better goaltending. Yet despite not having the Stanley Cup ring his opponent has, New York's Henrik Lundqvist gets the edge among most of hockey's so-called experts.
Aside from the rivalry in goal, this will mark an exciting time for the Kings and their fans as they have had to wait months to see a meaningful game in Los Angeles (no offense preseason) and while last season the mission was to repeat, it is to get back what's rightfully theirs this season. After all, while there's no shame in being eliminated by a team as talented as deep as the Chicago Blackhawks, there is shame in having been ousted by an overtime goal courtesy of Patrick Kane, one of the most classless players in hockey. With that, the Los Angeles Kings and their fans are steaming mad and what better to open the season than against a goaltender who many think is better than Jonathan Quick even though the numbers and accolades at the most important time of the year don't even compare. But I digress.
As far as head-to-head meetings go, there isn't much to take from. The last time the Kings and Rangers met was in Stockholm, Sweden when Los Angeles opened the 2011-12 season with an overtime win courtesy of the since-traded Jack Johnson.
Entering Monday night, the Rangers will have been off since Thursday night when they lost in the desert to the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-1. The Blueshirts are also in a transition period having parted ways with head coach John Tortorella, replacing him with Alain Vigneault who knows the Kings quite well from his days as the bench boss in Vancouver. Both great coaches but very different styles so we'll see what kind of team the silver-and-black are up against on Monday night.
Despite the coaching and their loss on Thursday, the Rangers still have enough offensive outlets to strike fear in any defensive unit, even one as deep as Los Angeles's.
The recently re-signed Derek Stepan led NYR with 44 point last season, followed by Rick Nash (who had his own success against the Kings while playing for Columbus), Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan - all of which eclipsed the 30-point plateau during last year's abbreviated season.
Conversely, the Kings have enough offensive threats of their own with Jeff Carter who already has a pair of goals, Anze Kopitar and Matt Frattin who each have a pair of assists and let's not forget their early dominance on the power play where they have already scored three times with the man-advantage.
East coast vs. west coast, Quick vs. Henrik or Sutter vs. Vigneault. Whichever storyline you want to choose, the Kings-Rangers contest should be a fun-filled one.
Enjoy the game!