Well here it is folks. The Stanley Cup Final is coming down between two powerhouse cities in the United States as the East coast vs. West coast matchup between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings is set to kick off tonight from the Staples Center in L.A.. The Rangers and Kings have never met in the Stanley Cup Final before, while the Kings are looking to make it two Stanley Cups in the past three years and prevent the Rangers from winning their first in exactly two decades since their 54-year drought was snapped in 1994 over the Vancouver Canucks. Many are heavily favouring the Kings heading into the finals but the Rangers are here by no fluke. Their speed, defensive prowess and most of all goaltending are likely to create some sort of problems for the Kings and this series is going to be harder fought and much closer than many expect. Without further hesitation, let’s get into our pick for game one of the Stanley Cup Finals.
New York Rangers @ Los Angeles Kings
My Pick – UNDER 5 (-116) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
After a high flying series against the Chicago Blackhawks that once again went the full seven-game distance, the Kings are going to run into a tougher defence and a tougher goaltender tonight against the New York Rangers. King Henrik Lundqvist stole the show in the series-clinching game six against the Montreal Canadiens as he slammed the door on the Habs and posted a shutout to ensure the Rangers got a trip the Stanley Cup Finals. At times the Kings weren’t able to defend the high-octane offence that the Blackhawks threw at them, resulting in many high-scoring games, however this Rangers offence is not quite as dynamic as that of the 2013 Cup champion Blackhawks. For instance, Kings star defenceman Drew Doughty with his 16 points has three more points than the leading scorers on the Rangers in this playoffs as Marty St. Louis, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonough all sit with 13 points atop the Rangers leaderboard. The Rangers have prided themselves on strong defence from both the back end and the forward, along with superior shot-blocking skills and a monster between the pipes in Lundqvist. Despite the Rangers surrendering seven goals in game five against the Habs, Lundqvist’s goals against average sits at a measly 2.03 in the postseason, once again a product of the all-around defence the Rangers have displayed all season. The Rangers were the third best team this season in road defence, giving up just 2.3 goals away from Madison Square Garden. Clearly, the L.A. Kings are no slouches when it comes to team defence as well as the 2.1 goals per game they surrendered at the Staples Center this season was the second best in the NHL this season. The two meetings these team had this year yielded just five goals total, with the Rangers scoring three of the five, showing this series is going to be a dogfight as opposed to a breeze for the L.A. Kings. The total has gone UNDER in four of the last five meetings between the two teams at the Staples Center in L.A. and with all the defensive ability in tonight’s game, I am looking for a low scoring affair to kick of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals.