Sports

Kings-Rangers: How they match up

STANLEY CUP FINAL

Game 1: Wednesday at L.A., 5 p.m., NBC/4

Game 2: Saturday at L.A., 4 p.m., NBC/4

Game 3: Monday at N.Y., 5 p.m., NBCSN

Game 4: Wednesday, June 11, at N.Y., 5 p.m., NBCSN

Game 5-x: Friday, June 13, at L.A., 5 p.m., NBC/4

Game 6-x: Monday, June 16, at N.Y., 5 p.m., NBC/4

Game 7-x: Wednesday, June 18, at L.A., 5 p.m., NBC/4

x-If necessary

FORWARDS

The Kings are the highest-scoring team in these playoffs. No, really, they are. It’s still difficult to fathom, for a team that finished 26th in goals scored during the regular season, but the Kings have discovered two lines of consistent scorers. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have formed a deadly first-line combination and, on the second line, center Jeff Carter and wingers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are all potent. The Rangers are balanced. They don’t have a forward with more than six goals or 13 points in this postseason, and that’s gritty winger Martin St. Louis, who turns 39 next week.

Advantage: Kings

DEFENSEMEN

The Kings’ Drew Doughty isn’t one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy, but he has arguably been the most-talked-about defenseman in these playoffs because of his stellar two-way ability. Less attention has been paid to the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh, who has also been stellar. Doughty has four goals and 12 assists, while McDonagh has three goals and 10 assists. The important thing for the Kings is that physical defensemen such as Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene, who struggled at times against Chicago, are stout against the Rangers.

Advantage: Kings

GOALTENDING

Flip a coin here. New York’s Henrik Lundqvist is as good, and as consistent, as they come. Among full-time starting goalies in this postseason, Lundqvist leads with a .928 save percentage and is second with a 2.03 goals-against average. He’s known as “The King.” He’s also a rock. The same is usually said about the Kings’ Jonathan Quick, but Quick has a 2.86 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. Those are deceiving, though, because the Kings have played three talented offensive teams, and the Kings’ defense has been sometimes shaky.

Advantage: Rangers

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Kings are thriving on the power play and struggling on the penalty kill? That’s a dramatic change from the regular season, and the past couple seasons, when it’s usually been the other way around. The Kings will need to tighten up. They can’t count on scoring many goals against the Rangers’ penalty-kill unit, which has an effectiveness rate of 85.9 percent in the playoffs. The Kings have killed only 81.2 percent of their penalties in the playoffs, down from 83.1 in the regular season, but if they can cut down on bad, offensive-zone penalties, that will be a big help.

Advantage: Kings

COACHING

What must they be thinking in Vancouver right now? Last summer, the Canucks fired Alain Vigneault, the Rangers fired John Tortorella, and the teams hired each other’s old coaches. It’s worked out quite nicely for the Rangers and Vigneault, a quiet but respectful coach who coaches a good balance of offense and defense. The Canucks, with the volatile Tortorella, missed the playoffs. Then there’s Darryl Sutter, who continues to push the right buttons, from the bench and in the locker room, to guide this Kings team on its odd journey through the playoffs.

Advantage: Kings

INTANGIBLES

How far can adrenaline carry a team? The Kings are the first team to reach a Stanley Cup Final by winning three seven-game series. They’re coming off a series against Chicago that was one of the most intense and emotional in recent memory, and the Rangers enter the Final with three more days off. They’ll be rested and ready to go, and starting at Staples Center won’t bother the Rangers, who, during the regular season, won more games on the road (25) than at home (20). No doubt, they will look to jump on the Kings early in Game 1.

Advantage: Rangers

PREDICTION

Believe it or not, some pundits are predicting that this series will only go five or six games. What have they been watching? The Kings do things the hard way, and so do the Rangers, who needed seven games to win each of their first two rounds, then six games to beat Montreal in the Eastern Conference final. After a wild series against Chicago, the Kings should return to form in a tight-checking, low-scoring series against the Rangers. The popular sentiment seems to be that the Kings will easily dismiss the Rangers, but don’t count out this deep, veteran team.

Kings in 7

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