One and the Same: Kings and Rangers are remarkably similar
The Kings played in a tougher division and conference, had more points in the standings, and look like a more difficult hockey team to beat. Just ask the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and the Kings' most recent victim, the Chicago Blackhawks.
With all of that said, however, the Kings and the Blueshirts are actually two very similar hockey clubs. The team's play a similar style, both rely on their netminder, each team has a lot of depth and both clubs are led by good coaches.
Similar Styles of Play
The Kings are a team that plays well in both ends while also having the ability to cash in on their scoring chances.
In this year's postseason, the Kings were able to defeat their opponents by creating offense from good defensive plays. The Kings were able to force a lot of turnovers, win a lot of battles in their own end to get the puck out and when they were able to do that, it resulted in the team scoring a lot of goals.
The Rangers play almost the same exact style. They are a team that prides themselves on being sound defensively and a team that can use their strong defensive play and create offense from it.
The Blueshirts have had an array of odd-man-rushes in the playoffs this year and have also been able to create a lot of scoring opportunities while shorthanded. If either team coughs up the puck in this series, it could end up in the back of their net when all is said and done.
This year's Final features two world-class netminders.
In Jonathan Quick, the Kings have someone who helped them win it all in 2012, has led them to the Final in two of the last three seasons, and also someone who has made several momentum-changing saves in the postseason this year. While his stats are not exactly great in this year's playoffs, he is someone who is at his best when everything is on the line and come this next series, the whole season will be on the line each and every game.
Lundqvist is everything and more to the Rangers. He is consistently the team's best player on the ice, he is the club's backbone, and he is the main reason why the Rangers are where they are today.
With the Cup on the line, both Quick and Lundqvist will certainly have to be at their very best to win hockey's Holy Grail.
The Ability to Roll Four Lines
A good hockey team is one that can roll all four lines without their being a much of a drop off.
The Kings definitely have a lot of depth as they do not rely on just one guy to score goals and produce on a nightly basis. With the likes of Anze Kopitar (five goals and 19 assists for 24 points), Jeff Carter (nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points), Marian Gaborik (12 goals and 7 assists for 19 points), Justin Williams (seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points), Tyler Toffoli (seven goals and six assists for 13 points), and Dustin Brown (four goals and eight assists for 12 points), the Kings have several players they can rely on to score goals, create scoring opportunities, and produce when they need it the most.
For the first time in what seems like seasons, the Rangers play like a team that has depth. Guys like Martin St. Louis (six goals and seven assists for 13 points), Derek Stepan (five goals and eight assists for 13 points), Brad Richards (five goals and six assists for 11 points), Mats Zuccarello (four goals and seven assists for 11 points) lead the way for this team while the club's other eight forwards have also all been able to contribute in this year's postseason.
Both clubs really define the phrase "play as a team", which should make it interesting come the drop of the puck in this series.
Not only will this series be a battle between two of the world's best goaltenders, it will also be a chess match between two excellent coaches.
Come playoff time, all Kings' head coach Darryl Sutter has done is have his team clicking at the right time. They may not look great during the regular season at times, but come playoff time, the Kings are an entirely different hockey club.
In the playoffs under Sutter, the Kings constantly look like world beaters as they show their opponents and the rest of the league that they never give up, know how to face adversity and when all is said and done, know how to win at the most important time of the season. It should come as no surprise that they are in the Final once again.
Alain Vigneault has been nothing but a breath of fresh air for the Rangers. The team may have gotten off to an extremely slow start, but Vigneault not only did not panic, but he was able to implement his system and get his team to buy into it.
The result has been a Rangers' team that can put the puck in the net, still play sound defensively and one that has a lot more depth. Should Vigneault be able to deliver the Cup in his first season on Broadway, his name will no longer be a question mark when it comes to asking who are some of the best coaches in the league.
Because of how similar these clubs actually are, it is tough to predict who will win this series.
Both clubs have what it takes to win and both teams are where they should be in this year's playoffs.
In the end, this should be a great way to end the hockey season.