Rangers vs. Kings, Kings vs. Rangers. Either way you look at it, expect the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals to be epic.
The Rangers and the Kings have both had tremendous success in Game 7s this postseason – attested to by the fact that they’re here in the Stanley Cup Finals. Before this year, no team that had gone seven games in both of the first two rounds has even advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, much less won. This year, that longstanding streak comes to an end. The Kings went seven games in each of the three preliminary playoff rounds. The Rangers went seven games in the first two rounds before ousting the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Los Angeles comes into the Rangers vs. Kings series as heavy favorites, but neither team is putting much stock in that.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about his opponents going into the Kings vs. Rangers series:
“Great goaltending. Great defense. Great forwards. Great special teams. We’re up against it again.”
Rangers’ coach Alain Vigneault also showed considerable respect for his opponent:
“To put it quite simply, we’re up against the team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago that just beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, that without a doubt is battle-tested. We know exactly what we have to do. If we want to have a chance, we’re going to have to bring our best hockey of the year. It’s as simple as that. We’ve had a couple of good practices, we’re going to have another good one tomorrow, and we’re going to be ready come Wednesday.”
While the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup just two years ago, the New York Rangers’ championship drought stretches all the way back to 1994, when Wayne Gretzky was on the squad. The ’94 Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven hard-fought games. If this series goes the distance and gives us seven games, we will have experienced the longest Stanley Cup playoffs in history.
Don’t expect the extra-long playoffs to slacken the pace of play. According to an AP article, King’s forward Marian Gaborik – who also played for the Rangers from 2009-2013 – had this to say about that:
“No, you don’t get tired right now. All you think about is winning the Stanley Cup.”
The Rangers vs. Kings series kicks off tonight at 8 P.M. Eastern Time (5 P.M. for those of you watching from L.A.). You can catch all the action in the Kings vs. Rangers game 1 streaming online live free by clicking here.