Skip to content

PHT Morning Skate: Shall we begin?

Jun 4, 2014, 8:09 AM EDT

Anze Kopitar AP

Game 1: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings (8:00 p.m. ET — NBC)

Tonight, for the first time in his career, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will play in the Stanley Cup Final. The 32-year-old goaltender, who 14 years ago was wondering if he made a mistake heading over to North America in the first place, has never been closer to cementing the legacy he’s built through years of elite play.

He’ll be countered by former teammate Marian Gaborik, who was taken in the same 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Unlike Lundqvist, Gaborik was always highly regarded, but the 32-year-old has forward battled injuries throughout his career and has been traded off twice in the last two years. His stock had fallen so much by the March 5 trade deadline, that Columbus couldn’t even get a first round pick or top prospect from the Kings even after agreeing to retain half of his remaining cap hit.

Just three months later, Gaborik has established himself as perhaps the greatest threat Lundqvist will face. Like the Rangers netminder, tonight will be his first game in the Stanley Cup Final.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This series will be defined by the personal stories of those who have worked their entire lives in the hope of creating opportunities like this one. From forward Brad Richards, who might be playing with in his last games with the Rangers as the nature of his contract still makes him a potential compliance buyout candidate, to his old Tampa Bay teammate Martin St. Louis, who has rejoined him a decade after they led the Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship.

Los Angeles won it all in 2012 and with largely the same cast, so there are fewer stories about guys seeking to lift the Stanley Cup for the first time or get that chance again after a long drought, but they have a more ambitious purpose.

The Kings have been to at least the Western Conference Final in three straight years and they’ll have largely the same team back for 2014-15. Drew Doughty is just 24 years old and has already played in 71 playoff games. There’s the potential for him to win multiple championships with the Kings before he retires based on the path this team is going.

In other words, they’re one of the few teams that can compete for that dynasty title that has alluded hockey teams in the salary cap era.

In the days since the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, PHT along with the rest of the hockey world has been breaking down this series from every angle imaginable. Doing so is interesting, engaging, and enriches the fan experience, but at the end of the day, half of the people that skate in this series will come up short, head back to their locker room, wonder if they that was their last good shot, and then get to work towards proving that it wasn’t.

And the rest of them will lift the Stanley Cup.

Latest Posts
  1. Caps’ Wey retires at 24 due to concussions

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:57 AM EDT

    Patrick Wey Getty Images

    He made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 campaign before his career was derailed.

  2. Where to next? Arcobello poised to test UFA market

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes

    He played with four different NHL teams last season.

  3. B’s GM Sweeney a lightning rod for criticism

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT

    Don Sweeney AP

    It’s not all about the Zac Rinaldo trade, although that certainly didn’t help.

  4. VandeVelde signs two-year extension with Flyers

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    Chris VandeVelde Getty Images

    He establish himself with the team after years of work primarily in the AHL.

  5. Sharks agree to five-year deal with Brenden Dillon

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT

    Brenden Dillon Getty Images

    San Jose still has an opening on its blueline.

  6. Canucks hand Markstrom two-year, $3.1 mil deal

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Jacob Markstrom Getty Images

    He’ll start the season as Vancouver’s backup goaltender.

  7. Riley Nash, Yannick Weber among those without qualifying offers

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:40 PM EDT

    Yannick Weber Getty Images

    They are now set to become unrestricted free agents.

  8. Vancouver signs Linden Vey to one-year extension

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:43 PM EDT

    Linden Vey Getty Images

    He’ll reportedly earn $1 million next season.

  9. Agent: Franson has spoken with ‘half a dozen’ teams (Updated)

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT

    Vancouver Canucks v Nashville Predators Vancouver Canucks v Nashville Predators

    Toronto, Calgary and Pittsburgh are amongst the teams, which have reached out.

  10. Your 2015 HHOF Class: Fedorov, Housley, Lidstrom, Pronger, Ruggiero

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:13 PM EDT

    Detroit Red Wings v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Bill Hay and Peter Karmanos Jr. are also going in as builders.

  11. NHLPA reviewing Richards situation, determining course of action

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:27 PM EDT

    Mike Richards Getty Images

    Also inside is information about the potential cap recapture situation the Kings might be stuck with.

  12. What’s next for Mike Richards and the Kings?

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers Getty Images

    Processing Monday’s surprising termination.

  13. Sens’ Chiasson headed for arbitration

    Jun 29, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Ottawa Senators v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    The 24-year-old’s three-year, $2.7 million deal is set to expire on Wednesday.

  14. Pricey Platoon? Stars reportedly sign Niemi for three years, $13.5M

    Jun 29, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Antti Niemi, AP

    If accurate, that’s $10.4M between Niemi and Kari Lehtonen.

  15. Report: Blackhawks sign Rundblad to a two-year, $2 million extension

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One Getty Images

    The 24-year-old was a pending restricted free agent.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Hamilton (2013)
  2. C. Talbot (1960)
  3. R. O'Reilly (1921)
  4. S. Gagner (1698)
  5. R. Lehner (1603)
  1. E. Etem (1559)
  2. M. Richards (1521)
  3. M. Lucic (1507)
  4. A. Niemi (1400)
  5. K. Letang (1366)