It’s that time of the year again. The Stanley Cup final is upon us.
This year it’s the Beasts from the East, the New York Rangers, and the Best from the West the Los Angeles Kings, who will be fighting tooth and nail for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Silver Grail above their heads in triumph.
But how do these two teams compare on paper? What have they done head-to-head in the regular season? So many questions, so little time to answer.
Well first of all, the teams split the regular season head-to-head series with each team winning one game. The road team won both games, with the Rangers, on the strength of a pair of Brad Richards goals, taking the first game 3-1 in SoCal while the Kings got revenge, blanking the Rangers in the Big Apple 1-0 on a Tyler Toffoli second period goal.
However it was current Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens that registered the 37 save shutout, not Jonathan Quick. Although Quick was in net for the 3-1 loss early in the season.
So let’s break down which team has the advantage in the three big categories: Offence, defence and goaltending.
Despite the Rangers scoring 218 goals in the regular season to Los Angeles’ 206, I still give the nod to the Kings. Why? Because this is the playoffs, and the Kings offence has been scary good this post season with the Super Slovenian Anze Kopitar leading the way with five goals and 19 assists for 24 points in 21 games.
As a matter of fact, the Kings have five players, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty and Kopitar, that have more points in this post season than the Rangers leading scoring trio of Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, who all have 13 points in the playoffs.
For that reason I am giving the nod to the Kings in the offensive department.
The Kings defence was the class of the NHL in the regular season, allowing a league low 174 goals while the Rangers blueline was also very strong, allowing just 193 goals for fourth best in the NHL.
But as is the case once again, this is the post season and the “what have you done recently” mindset takes place. And what the Kings defence has done is perform at a subpar level (by their standards), allowing the opposition to score 59 goals in 21 playoff games.
The Rangers defence, on the other hand, has allowed the opposition to score just 41 goals in 20 games.
With that being said, however, every Kings defenceman is at least plus one with the exception of Jeff Schultz who has played just seven games in the playoffs. Doughty, the Kings top offensive defenceman, is also more than capable of playing his position and sits with a +5 rating in the playoffs.
Two of the Rangers top defencemen, meanwhile, are minuses with McDonagh at -2 and Dan Girardi at -1.
The fact that McDonagh and Girardi will have to face an offence as potent as the Kings is a scary thought and, even though the Kings have let in nearly 20 more goals in the playoffs, the nod for the better blueline goes their way.
When Jonathan Quick is involved in the series it’s almost a given that he is the best goalie competing.
Unless, of course, the opposing goalie happens to be Henrik Lundqvist.
In the regular season Quick had a better goals against average at 2.07, while King Henrik’s was 2.36.
However, Lundqvist’s save percentage of .920 was better than Quick’s .915 save percentage. King Henrik also played in 13 more regular season games, yet won just six more games, 33, than Quick and his 27 wins.
But as was the case in the last two categories, what have you done recently.
Quick has played well enough to get his team to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s backstopped his team to three straight Game Seven wins and has done what it takes to become a Western Conference champion (again).
King Henrik, meanwhile, has utterly decimated opposing offences. Lundqvists playoff goals against average of 2.03 is amazing. Just as amazing as his .928 save percentage.
Quick, meanwhile, has a 2.86 GAA and a save percentage of 2.86 which isn’t something you’d write home to mother about.
So when it comes to the matter of who has the better goaltender, the answer is simple. They don’t call him the King for nothing. Lundqvist and the Rangers have the better netminder. And Quick, as good as he is, would lose that argument every time.
This is the hardest part. It’s easy to go by what is said on paper. However, the game is played on the ice and anything can happen.
As much as I’d like to see a Stanley Cup parade happen in Oslo, Norway, home of diminutive Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, I just don’t see it happening.
King Henrik is great, but I just don’t see the Rangers holding off the Kings in their seemingly blessed playoff run.
Yorkton will once again have a Stanley Cup parade as Jarret Stoll and the Los Angeles Kings win the 2013/14 Stanley Cup.
Oh, and they’ll do it in seven games.