Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 Stanley Cup Final:
Game 1 vs. NY Rangers
June 4, 2014
5pm PST (8pm EST)
For the first time in their history, the Los Angeles Kings will be hosting the opening game of the Stanley Cup Final. Having started on the road when they went to the big dance in 1993 and again in 2012, the Kings will start off with home-ice advantage in 2014. With that said, the atmosphere at Staples Center on Wednesday should be electric, not to mention deafening. But the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers will hope to spoil the party.
While these two teams did split their regular-season battle, they haven't faced off against each other since November 17. During that time, the Rangers were still looking to get settled under new head coach Alain Vigneault while the Kings were receiving superb goaltending from someone not named Jonathan Quick.
Both clubs went through their struggles since then but have also become better teams. Needless to say, for anyone looking for a similar matchup than they saw in November will be mildly disappointed. Speaking of Jonathan Quick, the last time he faced the Rangers was way back on October 7 when he allowed an embarrassing goal. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to suggest that Quick will be out to redeem himself on Wednesday night, especially when his netminding adversary, Henrik Lundqvist, has been deemed the better backstop by many of the hockey pundits.
While the Rangers are coming off an emotional series win against Montreal (in addition to a few extra days of rest), the Los Angeles Kings are coming off a resilient display where they eliminated the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, including coming from behind three times in Game 7. Each team may claim they have the momentum but once the puck drops on Wednesday, the on-ice action will do the talking.
In the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Los Angeles Kings will need a strong start should they hope to start their final series off on the right foot. While they did come back from a 0-1 series deficit to win three-straight games over Chicago last round, the Rangers exploded with a 7-2 victory in Game versus Montreal, and the Canadiens could never seem to get back into the series after that. This is one start the Kings will need to avoid, regardless of how resilient they are overall.
There is certainly a lot of history when it comes to current and former players.
Current King Marian Gaborik only played for the Rangers two seasons ago while New York's Dan Boyle was a Los Angeles draft pick, but of former GM Dave Taylor and not Dean Lombardi. Kings' president Luc Robitaille also played for the Rangers. In addition, the Kings will be up against a familiar head coach in the aforementioned Alain Vigneault. He and the Kings developed a rivalry during the coach's days in Vancouver and will hope to start a new chapter in this series.
All the matchups are set and all the talk has been spoken. Now, it's just time to drop the puck and let the 2014 Stanley Cup Final commence.
Enjoy the game!