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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

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
6 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
7 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
8 NSH 55 25 21 9 142 148 59
9 ARI 54 25 23 6 143 164 56
10 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
11 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 55 11 29 -2 40
F. Forsberg 55 18 18 -7 36
S. Weber 55 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 55 6 28 3 34
J. Neal 55 20 13 18 33
M. Ekholm 55 6 19 3 25
R. Ellis 54 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 55 11 7 -1 18
C. Jarnkrok 54 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 38 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 8 .902 2.57
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36