The stage is set for the battle of the coasts. It all comes down to the New York Rangers versus the Los Angeles Kings in a best of seven series to determine which team will raise the Stanley Cup. It's certainly a big city matchup as two of the largest hockey markets in the country, New York and Los Angeles, will take center ice.
The Rangers finished up their series against the Canadiens on Thursday in six games. They have been eagerly anticipating (and resting) for the past three days waiting to see who their opponent would be. The Kings, however, needed seven games to capture the Western Conference Championship. They defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime yesterday in a playoff game for the ages.
The entire Blackhawks/Kings series was a heartstopping affair. The victor ultimately decided by a one crazy goal. Alec Martinez, defenseman for the Kings, rocketed a slap shot that bounced off Blackhawks' defenseman Nick Leddy. The deflection landed inside the net and decided the series.
Martinez didn't know the puck hit the net until he saw Jarrett Stoll celebrating. He said, "I didn't see it go in, I know it went off some bodies. I just tried to get it through and fortunately it went in."
— NHL (@NHL) June 2, 2014
"We said if we won the game, it was going to be a great series," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We would have preferred not to get to Game 7, but when you play the defending champions, there's a good chance there's going to be a Game 7. Game 7 is about winning it all and doing whatever it takes."
The Kings became the first team in the history of the NHL to play all 21 possible games in the first three rounds, taking each series to a do-or-die Game 7. Additionally, the road warriors won all three deciding games as the away team.
"This series, and I can only speak for myself, was probably the most emotional seven games I've ever played," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "One, the caliber of the two teams and also how the games were won and lost on both sides. Leads, third-period leads, leads early, leads late ... it was emotional."
For the Rangers, it will be their first trip to the NHL finals in 20 years. The Kings are certainly more seasoned, it will be the team's second Stanley Cup finals in just three years.
Here's a look at the entire schedule:
Game 1: Wednesday Jun 4 Rangers @ Kings 8:00 pm
Game 2: Saturday Jun 7 Rangers @ Kings 7:00 pm
Game 3: Monday June 9 Kings @ Rangers 8:00 pm
Game 4: Wednesday June 11 Kings @ Rangers 8:00 pm
Game 5 (if necessary): Friday June 13 Rangers @ Kings 8:00 pm
Game 6 (if necessary): Monday June 16 Kings @ Rangers 8:00 pm
Game 7 (if necessary): Wednesday June 18 Rangers @ Kings 8:00 pm
What do you think? Which team will raise the Cup?
Image via Wikimedia Commons