At sheer face value, the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings isn’t going to be a close series. You can make a case that the Rangers might stretch this out to six games, but nobody’s going to be surprised if LA finishes them off in five. A sweep isn’t out of the cards either, but that’s disrespecting what the Rangers have accomplished in this dramatic run for the Cup.
But the Kings are the favorites at 8/13 odds. Top to bottom, LA has better players, competes in a better conference and has gone through a bloodbath of a playoff run in the quest for its second Stanley Cup in three years. A majority of the team that plowed through the 2012 playoffs are still in place so there’s also championship experience on the Kings side that neither talent nor skill can buy.
By contrast, the Rangers have only two players – Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis – that have appeared in a final. That’s a sizable gap in experience that could pay huge dividends for Los Angeles. Then again, the 2012 Kings didn’t have that much experience either and look where it got them.
The Rangers are by no means flies in LA’s windshield, even if their 8/5 odds make them the underdogs in the series.
They’ve got an equally potent lineup that can break out in any game. They have hotshot goalie Henrik Lundqvist, a guy that already has a Vezina Trophy and Olympic gold and silver medals on his resume. The only thing missing is a Stanley Cup title, which is within reach if King Henrik performs like royalty against the Kings.
A hot goalie is the ultimate ace-in-the-hole at this stage of the tournament, but the Kings counter Lundqvist with Jonathan Quick, another goalie with a legitimate claim to being the best in the game today. Quick hasn’t been as sharp in the playoffs, but that’s not so much about him as it is the high-powered offenses he’s met so far.
In the end, picking the Stanley Cup Final is a little easier than a lot of people are making it out to be. Even with Lundqvist manning the Rangers’ net, the Kings are just the better team, and having Quick on the other end of the ice doesn’t hurt either.
Look for the Kings to win this in six games, making the 4/1 odds of that happening an appealing bet to make.