Kings Rangers Heads-Up

If the NY Rangers win the Stanley Cup, it won’t be because they’re blessed by anyone’s deceased mother or wife, at least not according to the words of Brad Richards. He was responding to the (mostly, it seems) media-created buzz about the fact that the spirit of Mrs. St. Louis, Martin’s mother, was watching over the team.

Richards said, “I’m not going to use that as the reason we’re here. It wouldn’t be right either way. That’s too unfair even to compare.” But he added that the death of the St. Louis matriarch and Martin’s response had done a lot to “let the guys get to know Marty better. Showing up after what happened. The support he got from the organization made him feel a lot more like a Ranger that he would have if that hadn’t happened.”

But he finished by saying, “I’m sure we would give up this chance to have her back, and Marty would say that too.”

The stories of this series are as follows:

1. New York has but three guys who have won the Stanley Cup in years prior. They are not lacking leadership, but they are lacking big-game history and success. There’s nothing to be done for that but to play the big games, and hope that everything works out OK. Maybe it will, but maybe it won’t.

On the other hand, Matt Greene pointed out that the LA Kings had only a couple of guys who had big-game experience in their 2012 Cup run, and it’s like the old conundrum—can’t get a job with no experience, can’t get experience without a job. Sometimes you’ve just gotta dive in and do it.

2. The Rangers are thinking about the Kings’ ability to hit. Rick Nash mentioned this four times before he had been talking for ten minutes on Wednesday. Nobody said what people in the West have said all year—it’s a different game out there, a tougher, bigger game. New York has played some bigtime teams, but not necessarily some big ones. The Kings might just surprise them.

3. This is not the same Kings’ team as won the Stanley Cup two years ago. They’re mostly the same people, but they’re a much faster, different squad. Seemingly in this playoff, they’ve abandoned their all-for-defense approach and started to score. Of the top ten scorers in the playoffs, they have five, and the top New York scorer. St. Louis, is sixteenth.

Kings scoring is coming from five sources: Kopitar and Gaborik, on the same line, and the so-called “70s Line” of two kids and a toothless twenty-nine year old. The two kids, Toffoli and Pearson, have 25 points between them. Carter has 22 all on his own. Gaborik and Kopitar lead the league in playoff goals and points, respectively.

4. Quick has not been remarkable, and his numbers are nowhere near where they were in the magical year of 2012 (30 goals allowed in 20 games), but he’s been good enough, and good enough at the right times. So the goalie battle, which everybody gives hands-down to Lundqvist, is more of a battle that that would suggest. In fact, Quick has come on since a weak start where he let in 13 goals in two games. Take those out, and his numbers round into shape much better.

5. Sutter has the Kings doing what he wants. He is not a father figure, several players assured IH during media day. But they know he’s in charge, and Trevor Lewis said specifically that he cares about the team and about players. He’s much more the decent man that the semi-oddball that he appears to be many nights in his press conferences.

So call the series how you like, but this one won’t be close. The Kings power is in their scoring their speed, and their structure. The Rangers are glad to be at the dance, as they should be, but sometimes, that’s what you’ve got to settle for.

Twitter, me, @growinguphockey. Thanks.


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