ALERT: All Philadelphia hockey fans and 700 Level readers should remove salt from their homes for the next two weeks or so because the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are going to pour it into those fans’ and readers’ wounds via a television screen while vying for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a classic Game 7 last night in the Windy City to set the stage for a tortuous Stanley Cup Final for Flyers fans that begins Wednesday evening in Hollywood.
On one hand, you have the Kings, aka “Flyers West,” with former Flyers Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams, who are all looking for their second Stanley Cup with the Kings in the past three seasons. Williams is attempting to win his third Cup overall as he also won with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
On the other hand, you have the hated New York Rangers, longtime rivals who eliminated the Flyers in a seven-game, first-round series earlier this spring. (Before we go any further, stop with the whole “the-Flyers-should-be-in-this-spot-and-not-the-Rangers theory. The teams’ series went to a seventh game but the Rangers were the better team and deserved to win.)
That’s one big, giant bowl of yuck right there.
Who to root for?
But the Kings sure look like the better team.
Carter is having an excellent postseason with nine goals and 13 assists. Trade deadline acquisition forward Marian Gaborik leads the playoffs with 12 goals. Center Anze Kopitar would probably win the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP if the playoffs ended today as he leads the postseason with 24 points.
Los Angeles’ defense is stacked and led by superstar Drew Doughty. And goalie Jonathan Quick isn’t too bad himself.
Though they may seem like one of those “teams of destiny,” the Rangers just don’t have the kind of firepower the Kings do. A few days of extra rest and goalie Henrik Lundqvist seem to be the real bright spots for the Rangers when comparing them to the Kings.
For as average he played against the Flyers in the first round, Lundqvist has been all that and more for the Rangers since as they dispatched the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens in the following rounds and he sports a slim 2.03 goals-against average through 20 playoff games.
Granted he didn’t have to be great against the Flyers since the Rangers controlled the puck so much, that series loss hurts even more now that we see the Flyers didn’t get Lundqvist at his best and still couldn’t steal the series.
But so is life.
Anyway, the prediction here is Kings in five games and even more hurt and bitter feelings around these parts.
Our tears must taste so good to the hockey gods.