Tag: Road to the Cup

Kings Rangers

Discover: Road to the Cup – the finals thus far


The Los Angeles Kings made history before this series even began by going to Game 7 in each of their first three series and winning every time. They developed a reputation for their resiliency, but the New York Rangers arrived to the Stanley Cup Final under similar circumstances.

They played in just one less game than the Kings over the first three series and overcame a 3-1 series deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins along the way.

When these two teams finally collided though, it was the Kings’ ability to bounce back that trumped the Rangers’. New York established a 2-0 lead in Game 1 and 2, but in both cases Los Angeles rallied back to win in overtime. With that, the Kings had a 2-0 series edge without leading at any point in the series.

“We can’t take any solace [in two close games] because we lost,” Rangers forward Brian Boyle insisted after the team’s second setback.

“We came here to win games. It doesn’t matter how the hell we do it, we have to win the game. If you don’t win the game you didn’t do what you came to do and that’s the worst feeling there is.”

Game 3 was a different beast as the New York Rangers got power-play opportunity after power-play opportunity, but Jonathan Quick was at his best, stopping 32 shots to lead Los Angeles to a 3-0 victory. The Kings stretch without holding the lead in a playoff game ended at 249:14 minutes, per LA Kings Insider.

With the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination, it was their chance to show what they could do in the face of adversity. New York took a 2-0 lead for the third time in this series and actually managed to hold onto it. They had luck on their side, as on two separate occasions the puck stopped moving just before the Rangers’ goal line, but Lundqvist also had a great game, stopping 40 of 41 shots.

The Rangers set an NHL record by winning their eighth straight home game when facing elimination. Lundqvist had a 0.99 GAA and .968 save percentage in those eight contests, according to NHL.com.

Los Angeles still has a commanding 3-1 lead and more than enough talent to finish off this series, but that doesn’t mean the finals are as good as done either. The Kings have suffered from slow starts against the Rangers and while they’ve managed to overcome that most of the time, it burned them in Game 4 and that might happen again if they allow New York to have any life early in Friday’s contest.

Although the Kings still have three chances to win, this game is important to them. If they can’t finish the Rangers off tonight, then the series will return to Madison Square Garden where the Rangers will attempt to extend their record-breaking streak. If New York is successful, then there will be a Game 7 and all bets are off at that point. In other words, even if Game 5 isn’t the Kings last chance to bury the Rangers, it is their best one.

Discover ‘Road to the Cup’: Los Angeles Kings

Bill Daly, Dustin Brown

For the second time in just three years, the Los Angeles Kings will play in the Stanley Cup Final.

They needed just 12 games to get this far back in 2012. It was a very different story this time around…

Round 1: Beat San Jose 4-3

The Kings didn’t exactly start the playoffs off on the right foot. The Sharks outscored them 13-4 over the first two contests, shifting the talk away from Los Angeles and towards the possibility of San Jose making a serious run at the Stanley Cup. When the Sharks edged out the Kings in overtime in Game 3, it seemed like Los Angeles’ elimination was all-but inevitable.

Only three teams had ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit, but Los Angeles wasn’t deterred. The Kings not only won their next four games, but they did so by wide margins, outscoring San Jose 18-5.

Round 2: Beat Anaheim 4-3

The Ducks and Kings had a long-standing rivalry fueled by geography, but this was the first time the crosstown rivals were actually pitted against each other in the playoffs. They made it a series to remember.

Los Angeles took the first two games, prompting Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau to shake things up by starting goaltender Frederik Andersen over Jonas Hiller. Andersen was solid in Game 3, leading to Anaheim’s first victory of the second round, but the netminder suffered a lower-body injury in the process.

Rather than go back to Hiller for Game 4, Boudreau decided to start 20-year-old John Gibson, who shut out the Kings in Game 4 and led Anaheim to a third straight victory in Game 5 with his 39-save performance.

Once again the Kings were on the brink of elimination, but they rallied back. For the second straight time, the Kings’ Game 7 wasn’t even close as they scored three goals in the first period en route to a 6-2 victory.

Western Conference Final: Beat Chicago 4-3

Since Darryl Sutter took over as the Los Angeles Kings head coach, only one team has managed to beat them in a playoff series, and that’s the Blackhawks. The defending Stanley Cup champions took Game 1 against the Kings and held a 2-0 lead late in the second period of Game 2.

It looked like the Kings might have finally met their match, but they broke out with six unanswered goals to even the series. From there they jumped to a 3-1 series lead — their largest margin of the 2014 postseason.

Chicago gave the Kings a taste of their own medicine though by taking Game 5 and then overcoming a 3-2 deficit in the third period of Game 6 to win on the strength of a Patrick Kane goal.

Los Angeles consequently had to play in a third Game 7 and this time they were against an opponent that wouldn’t wilt under the pressure as Chicago got off to a 2-0 lead. When the Kings rallied back with two goals in under a minute, Patrick Sharp responded just 12 seconds later to reestablish Chicago’s edge.

By the third period, Chicago had a 4-3 lead, but Marian Gaborik tied it with 7:17 left to play in regulation and defenseman Alec Martinez gave the Kings their first lead of the contest with the game-winning overtime goal.

Discover ‘Road to the Cup’: New York Rangers

Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Four

It’s been 20 years since the Blueshirts have been to a Stanley Cup Final — and now, they’re just one win away.

Getting to this point, though, hasn’t been easy. Let’s take a look back at how the Rangers advanced…

Round 1: Beat Philadelphia 4-3

New York’s opening-round opponent was its bitter divisional rival and, as you’d expect in a series between two teams separated by just two points in the standings, this one went the distance.

The series was as back-and-forth as it gets, with the Rangers and Flyers alternating wins until New York captured the final and most important one in Game 7 at MSG. As for individual performances, the Rangers were paced by the offensive contributions of Brad Richards, who made amends for last year’s disappointing playoffs by scoring six points in seven games (three coming in a Game 1 victory). Henrik Lundqvist was also his usual solid self, finishing the series by stopping 26 of 27 shots in the Game 7 victory, good for a .963 save percentage and second star honors.

As the series came to a close, an interesting narrative began: Philly and New York played Games 6 and 7 on back-to-back nights, and the Rangers had little time to celebrate as they were forced to start their second round series against the Penguins soon after.

Round 2: Beat Pittsburgh 4-3

Talk about scheduling dominated the early parts of this series, as Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said it was “stupid” how, after Game 3, the Rangers had played five times in seven nights.

Pittsburgh took advantage of a tired club and raced out to a 3-1 lead on the Rangers during this stretch, but the Blueshirts found momentum amid tragedy following the passing of Martin St. Louis’ mother prior to Game 5. St. Louis played inspired hockey in the aftermath, scoring two points in the final two games — including a goal in Game 6, played on Mother’s Day — as the Rangers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history.

That put New York on the road to where it’s at today. The Rangers still sit in the driver’s seat over Montreal — leading three games to two — despite losing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at the Bell Center. Should they put away the Habs, the Blueshirts would be back in a Stanley Cup Final for the first time since Mark Messier captained them to a championship in ’94, which snapped a 54-year Cup drought in the process.

Discover ‘Road to the Cup’: Montreal Canadiens

P.K. Subban
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The Montreal Canadiens hold a special distinction in Canada — they’re the last of the seven Canadian teams to have captured the Stanley Cup, defeating the Los Angeles Kings in 1993.

This year, they’re looking to bring Lord Stanley’s Mug back across the 49th parallel.

Montreal currently finds itself down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Final to the New York Rangers, but has shown great resiliency in getting to this point — suggesting they won’t go down to the Blueshirts without a fight.

Let’s take a look at how the Habs got here…

Round 1: Beat Tampa Bay 4-0

Montreal scored the lone sweep of the ’14 playoffs (thus far) by dispatching of a Tampa Bay team that actually finished ahead of the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division standings, and held home-ice advantage in Round 1. The big key to the Habs’ opening-round win was goaltending — specifically, Tampa Bay’s lack of it. With Bolts starter Ben Bishop unable to go due to an elbow injury, Anders Lindback was forced into No. 1 duties and struggled mightily, surrendering 14 goals over the four games and twice getting yanked in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.

Offensively, the Habs were paced by Rene Bourque (three goals) and Lars Eller (five points) in what proved to be an easy four-game broom job of the Bolts.

Round 2: Beat Boston 4-3

In one of the most exciting series to date, the Habs dispatched of their longtime rivals thanks in large part to the stellar play of Carey Price. His 48-save masterpiece in double-OT of Game 1 was one of the finest efforts of his career, but he’ll largely be remembered for clutch performances in elimination situations in Games 6 and 7, when he allowed just one goal on a combined 56 shots, winning the final game in TD Garden in front of a silenced Bruins crowd.

Price wasn’t the only Canadien to come up big against the Bruins, however. After struggling through most of the series, Max Pacioretty — who finished fourth in the NHL in goals this year, with 39 — came alive in Games 6 and 7, scoring three points (which included the game-winning goal in Game 7.) Montreal also got great production from defenseman P.K. Subban throughout the series, as he finished with seven points in seven games.

Of course, many of the good vibes from Montreal’s opening two rounds were wiped out when Price was hurt in Game 1 of the Rangers series, and ruled out for the remainder of the Eastern Conference Final. If the Habs are going to show the same resiliency they displayed in the Boston series, they’ll need 24-year-old replacement goalie Dustin Tokarski to show up on the big stage, starting with tonight’s affair at MSG.

Discover ‘Road to the Cup’: Chicago Blackhawks

Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game One

The road to the Stanley Cup is a familiar one for the Blackhawks.

The ‘Hawks got to a championship series for the first time in 49 years in 2010 — and snapped the drought, defeating Philly in six games — then did the trick three years later, dispatching of the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, also in six games.

This year, Chicago is looking to travel down that road once more to become the first team since the ’97-98 Detroit Red Wings to hoist Lord Stanley two years in a row.

Let’s take a look at how the ‘Hawks got to where they are…

Round 1: Beat St. Louis 4-2

In one of the most exciting first-round series in recent memory, Chicago rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight and dispatch of their longtime rival. The Blues looked to have things in control after winning consecutive overtime games to open the series, but the ‘Hawks showed their championship form by winning a pair of OT games of their own — including a crucial Game 5 at Scottrade in St. Louis — before closing it out at home at the United Center.

As per usual, it was Chicago’s dynamic duo leading the way. In Game 4, Patrick Kane scored the game-winner in overtime and, the next night out, it was “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews who provided the dramatics, capturing Game 5 with an OT winner on a breakaway against Ryan Miller.

Round 2: Beat Minnesota 4-2

In 2013, the ‘Hawks easily dispatched of the Wild in the opening playoff round, losing just once on the road to the Stanley Cup.

This year’s rematch would prove a much more difficult task.

Chicago came up against a tough, determined and stingy Minnesota team in Round 2, one that held the ‘Hawks to just six goals over the final four games of the series. But, in a familiar theme, it was the Blackhawks’ stars that made the difference in the end as Toews scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 — with less than 16 minutes remaining — before Kane once again provided the OT heroics in Game 6, flipping a backhand past Ilya Bryzgalov to move the ‘Hawks onto the Western Conference final.

“He’s a special player,” Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said of Kane, per ESPN. “Guys have that instinct, have that knack of finding pucks, wanting to be out there, wanting to score.”

Luckily for Kane, he’ll have plenty more opportunities to get out there and find the back of the net.