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2014 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Monday, 06.2.2014 / 4:09 PM CT
By Stu Grimson - TV Analyst / Stu Grimson's Blog
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The dust settles in the West in fitting fashion. Yet another Game 7 won by the plucky Los Angeles Kings in OT to close out the defending champs. If you saw it you’ll agree, that was a game for the ages.

And so with that, the Rangers can now prepare for a specific Stanley Cup opponent. Here are a few thoughts/predictions, by key categories, as we look forward to the East-West matchup.

Offense

Clear advantage to the Kings here. Kopitar (24pts) leads the post season in offense. Carter (22), Gaborik (19), Williams (18), Doughty (16), and

Toffoli (13) all appear in the top 20 scorers before any Ranger (St. Louis @ 16th with 13 pts) is mentioned.

And all this from a team that struggled to find the back of the net in 2013-14. The Kings had an aggregate of 206 goals for; the fewest of any NHL playoff team. This group has found their touch and its paying obvious dividends. Gaborik especially with a league-leading 12 goals. No single trade deadline pickup has had a stronger impact. The Rangers have not yet faced a team with as robust an offense as the Kings. The Murderous Monarchs move on to Manhattan.

Goaltending

Make no mistake; King Henry is an important part of the explanation as to why the Rangers are still playing in June. Lundqvist’s .928 SV% and his GAA of 2.03 best Quick’s numbers in both categories.

Question is though, as between Quick and Lundqvist, in the context of a single seven game series, who will rise to the occasion and deliver?

To that end, there’s a lot to like in Quick. He has more deep playoff experience and he is one who will raise his level based on the moment. Lundqvist’s game has looked fallible at times in the post season. See Game 5 of the ECF – four goals on just 19 shots. Neither will play perfect hockey but Quick will play better.

Intangibles

The marathon that is the Stanley Cup is the toughest in all of team sport. And for that reason, it takes a healthy measure of character to be the last team standing. One noteworthy statistic tells the tale here. No other NHL team has been to seven games in all three prior series and still made it to the Finals. Does this leave the Kings out of gas for the fourth and final round? Maybe. But I doubt it. LA has played just one more game than its Eastern opponent. Fatigue should be a non-factor.

I’ve never experienced it but I can only imagine the buzz inside the Kings’ room right now. Having come out on top in three seventh games has to leave you with a serious case of “this is our destiny.”

Prediction

Your Stanley Cup Champion comes out of the West once again in my estimation. LA in six; this talented group will not be denied.

See you around the rink.

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 7 2 3 -2 5
C. Wilson 7 2 3 2 5
J. Neal 7 2 1 0 3
R. Johansen 7 1 2 1 3
F. Forsberg 7 1 2 -2 3
R. Josi 7 0 3 -1 3
M. Ekholm 7 2 0 1 2
C. Smith 5 1 1 3 2
R. Ellis 7 0 2 1 2
M. Salomaki 7 1 0 1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 4 3 0 .915 2.45