The Los Angeles Kings, coming off their dethroning of the reigning Cup champions, turn their attention away from the powerhouse Blackhawks to the defensively minded Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers.
One can say that the Kings are the more experienced team, battling through 3 game sevens to get to the Finals, and winning the Cup in 2012. The Rangers, on the other hand, are appearing in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994. To put that in perspective, Martin St. Louis had not been drafted yet, Dominic Moore and Brad Richards were 14, and the the remaining players on the current roster, were all under the age of 10.
But like the Kings, the Rangers are boasting a very defense minded game, supported by the strong play of the King, Henrik Lundqvist. Though it is his first appearance in a Stanley Cup final, Lundqvist is bringing a track record of stellar performances when it matters most. In the 2006 Olympics in Turino, Lundqvist backstopped Sweden to a gold medal finish. At this years Olympics, Lundqvist carried a offensively challenged Swedish team to the gold medal game, where he stopped 33 of the total 36 shots in a 3-0 loss to Canada.
Make no mistake, this series for the Cup will be a duel between the goaltenders. Both Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist have almost identical career playoff stats. Lundqvist posts 42-44 record, with 9 shutouts, a GAA of 2.23 and a SV% of .922. Quick, in his 5 seasons in the NHL, posts a 41-30 record, with 8 shutouts, GAA of 2.27 and a SV% of .922. Both goalies' have a unique style, using their athleticism combined with the butterfly to get in front of the puck.
The Kings, who have at times lacked the scoring ability during the regular season, seem to have found a way to get the puck to the back of the net throughout the playoffs. Niemi, Hiller/Andersen/Gibson, and Crawford, are some elite goalies, but none of them have earned a status anywhere near King Lundqvist. The LA Kings will have to have all their guns going to be able to beat Lundqvist, who may be the only Ranger who can stop the Kings, searching for their second Cup in 3 years. If the Rangers can ride Lundqvist to win 4 games, Lundqvist will be standing on top of the hockey world, with his crown and his Cup.