The 2014 Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight, as NBC is surely in a state of nirvana, as the get the nation’s two biggest TV markets, with the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers. TheSportsNotebook has done reviews of the road both teams took to get here, both in the regular season and how each elevated their game in the playoffs. The links to those respective articles are below.
It’s the first time the cities of New York and Los Angeles have met for a championship since 1981. That year saw the Dodgers and Yankees play in the World Series for the third time in five years, and Los Angeles got their only win of those three meetings. There have still been some other notable postseason meetings between these two cities. Here’s three notable examples…
*When the Raiders were still in Los Angeles, they were a favored #1 seed in the 1982 AFC playoffs. The New York Jets came west and pulled off an upset in the divisional playoff round. It was the high point of the good Jets’ teams in the early 1980s and “The New York Sack Exchange” defensive line led by Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko.
*Two years later, it was the Giants coming west, under the leadership of Bill Parcells and inflicting some misery on Los Angeles. The Giants upset the Rams in the 1984 NFC wild-card game. It was the first postseason win for Parcells, who would of course have many more.
*And of more recent vintage, the 2009 American League Championship Series pitted the Yankees against the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees won the series in six games, with Alex Rodriguez having the one good October of his life and C.C. Sabathia winning two games.
Los Angeles hasn’t had much luck in these big battles with New York, but according to the oddsmakers, that’s going to change this time The Kings are a (-150) betting favorite, while you can get the Rangers and a nice (+170) price on the series moneyline.
I hope you find the information in the links below, regarding each team helpful, whether it’s predicting the series or just having some context to enjoy it. I really hope so, because my own prognostication record says you won’t find my picks all that helpful. Nonetheless, what’s the fun of this if you don’t make a pick? I’m taking New York to win.
My reason is simple—a hot goalie trumps all else in the NHL playoffs and Henrik Lundqvist is that goalie. I knocked him earlier in the playoffs for some of his past failings, but even that criticism made clear I respected his ability to take over a big postseason series and was just waiting for him to do it. Now he has.
I fully expect him to play well one more time, and while Jonathan Quick has a well-earned reputation for Los Angeles, but the Kings have survived in the playoffs this year more in spite of Quick than because of him. That’s enough to give me a lean to the Rangers, and the chance to get them at (+170) seals the deal.