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.
Jul 31, 2015, 10:22 PM EDT
He’s also a veteran of 616 career games.
Jul 31, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
That’s close to the middle between his and Washington’s requests.
Jul 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT
The decision surprised Arizona’s general manager.
Jul 31, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT
The defenseman spent the 2014-15 campaign in the Swiss League.
Jul 31, 2015, 5:36 PM EDT
He considers himself a “young 29.”
Jul 31, 2015, 4:11 PM EDT
Ray Shero’s restructure continues.
Jul 31, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT
There is a key deadline approaching though.
Jul 31, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT
Johnson won a gold medal in 1988, but it was taken away because of a positive steroids test.
Jul 31, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
There’s a $500 million expansion fee to consider.
Jul 31, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT
This will be a key season for him.
Jul 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Because once Voracek’s eight-year contract kicks in, they’ll be part of that list.
Jul 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Jul 30, 2015, 10:27 PM EDT
Former NHL stars are among the list of likely candidates.
Jul 30, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Has Buffalo set itself up for an era of long playoff runs?
Jul 30, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT
The deal is reportedly worth $5.6 million.
Jul 30, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT
At one point he was listed as the top European skater in the 2015 draft.
Jul 30, 2015, 5:52 PM EDT
The Flyers also have forwards Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier locked up.
Jul 30, 2015, 4:22 PM EDT
The 37-year-old still wants to continue his career.
Jul 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Along with Yao Ming.
Jul 30, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT
“Nobody benefits from a short-term deal like this, in particular, our hockey department.”
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 48
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 70
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 12
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 40
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 40
- Penguins sign Fehr to three-year, $6 million contract 22
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening 54
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (71)
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (70)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening (54)