The Stanley Cup Finals are set. For the first time in 20 years, it will be the New York Rangers facing off against the Los Angeles Kings in the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Rangers appear to have destiny on its side, while the Kings played the maximum 21 games to get here.
With game one scheduled for Wednesday night from Staples Center, let’s take a look at five key storylines heading into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Legacy Series for Lundqvist
Rangers fans everywhere have called Henrik Lundqvist “The King” since his rookie year in 2005, yet he’s never won anything in the NHL (He did win a gold medal with Sweden in the 2006 Torino Olympics). If Lundqvist truly wants to be called “King” and have some actual merit behind it, he must dominate this series and bring the Rangers its first championship since 1994. A championship for Lundqvist in New York would validate him as one of the Rangers’ all-time greats.
LA Kings Fatigue
The Los Angeles Kings have had a tumultuous ride to the Finals. Going down 3-0 to the Sharks before storming back to win that series, edging the Anaheim Ducks in 7 games, and De-throning the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in a classic 7-gamer. The bottom line is, the Kings have been through so much just to get here, and it’s unclear how much this team has left in the tank.
Happy Endings for Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore?
The turning point of the New York Rangers post-season came prior to game five of the teams 2nd round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Martin St. Louis’ mother died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 63. The Rangers seemingly used that as a rallying cry and have been a completely different team since. St. Louis has also raised his level of play scoring the overtime game-winner in game 4, and is back to playing at an elite level.
Along with St. Louis, Dominic Moore has been through his share of tragedy. Moore sat out the entire 2012-2013 season following the death of his wife (You can see Moore’s E:60 story here). He returned this season after signing a one-year contract with the Rangers and scored the deciding goal in game six against Montreal. The adversity that Moore and St. Louis have gone through has changed the attitude of this Rangers team and a championship would result in the happiest of endings.
Marian Gaborik spent 3 full seasons, and parts of a 4th with the Rangers, and scored over 40 goals twice. He was the premier offensive player on New York from 2009-2012, but was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in April of 2013 as part of a 6-player trade. Now Gaborik will be facing his former team for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. You can bet Gaborik will love nothing more than to stick it to his former team.
Quick vs. Lundqvist
This year’s Stanley Cup Final will feature 2 of the games premiere goalies. Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, and Jonathan Quick of the Kings are widely regarded as the most talented players at their positions. Lundqvist’s post-season aside from being pulled in game five against Montreal, has been magnificent, while Quick has been up and down against the best of the west. As a whole, the Kings are the more talented team than the Rangers, which means the pressure is on for Lundqvist to make up for that with stellar play between the pipes.
For the first time ever, it will be the number 1 media market against the number 2 media market in the country. Somewhere, Gary Bettman is smiling.