Jun 4, 2014, 8:09 AM EDT
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.
May 6, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
Similar to what happened to Martin Gelinas in 2004.
May 5, 2015, 11:41 PM EDT
Calgary can’t build momentum.
May 5, 2015, 11:12 PM EDT
Chicago has Minnesota on the brink of elimination.
May 5, 2015, 10:49 PM EDT
Game 4 is Thursday in Minnesota.
May 5, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT
Chicago in control of this series right now.
May 5, 2015, 9:19 PM EDT
“But it would certainly be in the right situation, with the right people.”
May 5, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT
‘Hawks and Wild, Ducks and Flames.
May 5, 2015, 7:14 PM EDT
For the league’s Most Outstanding Player, voted on by NHLPA members.
May 5, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT
Punishment handed down shortly after the Montreal forward apologized publicly.
May 5, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Diminutive forward sat out Sunday with the flu.
May 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Victor Coleman’s “priority” remains the SoDo site, but if that one doesn’t work out…
May 5, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT
Scoring on the Capitals hasn’t been easy for the New York Rangers.
May 5, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT
He was emotional.
May 5, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT
“He’s popped, he’s a person that’s carried himself with outstanding leadership.”
May 5, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT
The AHL is going to look dramatically different next season.
May 5, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
Swiss blueliner hasn’t played since Apr. 2.
May 5, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT
But will Ray Shero eventually look in that direction?
May 5, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Jordan Schroeder could draw in.
May 5, 2015, 12:18 PM EDT
Can they accomplish both?
May 5, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT
Red Wings brass hoping a little “adversity” is good for the 2013 first-round pick.
- Video: Controversial no-goal call on Flames 0
- Video: Crawford, Kane help Blackhawks push Wild to brink of elimination 27
- Prust fined $5K for ‘baseless and demeaning’ Watson comments 21
- Prust apologizes for all the stuff he said about referee Watson 48
- Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’ 22
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 16
- Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead 52
- Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’ 66
- End of an era in New Jersey as Shero replaces Lamoriello as GM 26
- Once again, Rick Nash isn’t scoring in the playoffs 26
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (103)
- ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident (83)
- Lightning’s Bishop silences Red Wings in hard fought Game 7 (81)
- Babcock won’t discuss future yet, but sees challenges ahead for Wings (78)
- New York second: Capitals stun Rangers for 1-0 series lead (76)