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Do Rangers prefer Kings or Blackhawks? AV: ‘Pick your poison’

Jun 1, 2014, 5:44 PM EST

Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Three Getty Images

You won’t run into many situations in which an idle playoff team will acknowledge its preferred opponent as the next round approaches. Even so, it seems that much easier to believe the New York Rangers when they seem ambivalent regarding their opponent in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

As strong as the Rangers have looked during their best moments in their first run to the championship round in 20 years, there’s a good chance most pundits will predict that the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks will go on to win it all.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault certainly didn’t provide any potential bulletin board material to the Bergen Record, deeming it a “pick your poison” situation.

“They’re two different teams,” Derick Brassard said. “Chicago is really high skilled. They transition really well. They have a good D corps. And L.A. is in your face. They work hard. But it doesn’t matter. We never picked our opponent. Every round you’re facing a different team and you’re up for the challenge.”

Whether the Rangers are “rooting” for one team or the other, they admit that they’ll watch tonight’s big contest.

They’ll bring an interesting perspective, too.

“I think it’s 50-50 – as a fan, but also you try to see what they like to do,” Henrik Lundqvist said. “We only played them twice, so we kind of know what to expect, but we’re going to have meetings in the next couple of days to go over what they like to do. But, a big part of me just likes watching the games right now. It’s intense out there. It’s good speed and great players making great plays, good goaltending. So, it’s fun to watch the game.

“So, I’m a fan, but also will try to learn a little bit.”

For what it’s worth, the Rangers fared pretty well in their games against those Western Conference powers:

Jan. 3: 3-2 at Chicago
Feb. 27: 2-1 win vs. Chicago

Oct. 7: 3-1 win at Los Angeles
Nov. 17: 1-0 loss vs. Los Angeles

Obviously a lot of time has passed and the stakes are significantly higher, so they might actually learn more from watching these two teams on June 1 than they would from meetings stretching back several months.

  1. elmerbrownelmerbrown - Jun 1, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Better chance against BLACKHAWKS

  2. ajg314 - Jun 1, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    It’ll be tough regardless, but then winning the Cup despite the pundits and haters will make it all the sweeter.

  3. stepanup - Jun 1, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Mentioned this a few days ago but as a Rangers fan I’d much prefer to play the Blackhawks. The Hawks top end talent is spectacular, but there are questions about their depth, both offensively and in their third defensive pairing. No question about who wins the Lundqvist – Crawford matchup.

    The Kings are just as deep as the Rangers on all four lines, and they have three great D-pairs. Quick can also match Lundqvist save for save for an entire series.

    I’d rather take my chances with McDonagh, Girardi and Staal matching up against Kane, Toews, and Hossa than face the Kings four-line monster.

    • stakex - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      Indeed. The Rangers have done a great job this year shutting down teams with a lot of top end talent, including all but eliminating Crosby/Malkin/Neal when playing the Pens. A top heavy team like the Hawks is a much better matchup for them than a more balanced Kings team.

      Also, the Rangers don’t exactly have the most dominant offense in the world and the Kings gave up the fewest goals in the NHL this year. That’s not a good matchup in favor of the Rangers. Chicago on the other hand was a pedestrian 13th in goals allowed…. giving the Rangers offense a lot more hope.

      I think the series will be a lot closer than most thing no matter who the Rangers play, but it will probably be more of a toss up against Chicago.

  4. nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 1, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    We neutrals would like an Old Six matchup, and Hawks-Rangers is the only such one that has never happened, so far as I know.

  5. bleedrangerblue - Jun 1, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    We want the cup! We want the cup!! We want the cup!!!

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:36 PM

      The only team worthy of wearing the Blue et Blanc et ROUGGGEEEEEE.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      Flyers fan here ,,,will be rooting for the boys in blue in the finals !

  6. billsin20xx - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Unless the west loses a game from being tired after their super series, it will be four and done for the Rangers – what a difference the hockey in the west is vs the east – so much faster, better skill and even the hitting is harder!

    • dschrode2013 - Jun 1, 2014 at 9:21 PM

      And I heard the puck glides along the ice faster in the west as well.

    • jkay1818 - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      faster/? have you seen the speed on the NYR? mtl beat boston on speed alone. the habs looked like they were in quick sand against the rangers.

      • dschrode2013 - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        My comment was a facetious one. Some aspects of hockey cannot be different in the west compared to the east. And yes I am well aware of the Rangers’ team speed giving them the ability to quickly go north/south, enhancing their chances of getting behind their opponents’ defense.

      • dschrode2013 - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:17 PM

        Sorry jkay. I now realize you we’re also replying to bills

    • arrow43050 - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      what happened to the western conference in the kings’ and blackhawks’ 4 games against the rangers? were they not members of the western conference when they went 1-3 against the rangers this year? please, it’s not like it’s a different sport or the minor leagues. any team in the final has earned the right to be there.

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