Steve Goldstein’s Pick:
The LA Kings
Growing up in New York, I spent many nights watching the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The scene will be special for the Rangers’ home games during the Stanley Cup finals, but the LA Kings don't care about any of that. They will prevail to win their second cup in the last three years.
LA has played the maximum 21 games in the playoffs, with each of their 3 series going to 7 games. The Kings trailed 3-0 in the first round, 3-2 in the second round and were down three times in Game 7 before beating Chicago in overtime in the Western Conference Finals. Call them the “Comeback Kings.”
The Rangers are rested and a fast team. But LA has experience, and Drew Doughty, the best player in the series.
Marian Gaborik is earning a lot of free agent dollars with his postseason performance. The toughness and talents of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will prove too much in the finals. Carter leads the "that 70's line" with his two rugged wingers with scoring touch, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. The Kings front office deserves credit for finding these two in the last few drafts despite not having high draft picks. The goalie matchup is a super one with two Olympians and two of the world's best net minders matching up. Jonathan Quick has a cup under his belt already while Henrik Lundqvist is red hot and in search of one.
Before the playoffs started, I picked the Rangers and Ducks in the finals but Anaheim fell victim to one of the Kings’ comebacks. I am hoping and expecting a long series. The Kings have proven they can beat the NHL’s best teams already--The Western Conference was loaded this year. LA's cup experience and home ice will prove large in Game 7.
Bottom Line: Kings in 7.
Randy Moller’s Pick: The New York Rangers
Goldie, I agree with you…. This year’s Cup Finals will be a long one. Lets break it down. The two best goalies in the world? Yes.
In this year’s NHL playoffs, goal scoring has not been this prevalent since the Gretzky/Messier/Coffey Edmonton Oilers dominance in the mid-80’s, yet the NY Rangers net minder “King” Henrik Lundquist sports a stingy 2.03 GAA and a .928 save percentage through 20 games this Spring. Jonathan Quick has been great, not spectacular…Marian Gaborik has displayed his world class scoring touch pacing the “take the long road” LA Kings with 12 goals. Can the Rangers match up individually with that? New York has gotten to the Finals by “committee” with their “top nine” forwards all registering at least nine playoff points so far. Inspiration has fueled Martin St. Louis and his Rangers so far in this year’s postseason.
Can Rick Nash outplay and produce the likes of the King’s Jeff Carter? Nash has converted just three tallies on a team high 65 playoff shots. The Eastern Conference champs need more. Are the Rangers rested or could rust creep into their play? Will fatigue play a role for the Kings in game one?
Chris Kreider (10 points in 10 playoff games) has the opportunity to elevate his Broadway talent and impact his world class level, and work horse Ryan McDonagh must neutralize LA’s dynamite Drew Doughty. Give the “special teams” edge to New York.
Bottom Line: Rangers take game 1 in LA, and win Lord Stanley’s Cup at MSG in 6 games.
Now you decide: Tweet @FlaPanthers with #TeamRandy or #TeamGoldie to let us know who you think has selected the right champion.