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PHT’s 2014 Stanley Cup Final staff picks

Jun 4, 2014, 9:32 AM EDT

CupFinals14

We’re back with another round of scintillating PHT staff picks! Here’s how our band of keyboard jockeys have fared thus far:

Jason Brough: 7-1 in Round 1, 2-2 in Round 2, 1-1 in Conference Finals (and the only guy to take L.A.) — 10-4 overall.

Mike Halford: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 0-2 in Conference Finals — 8-6 overall.

Joe Yerdon: 7-1 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 0-2 in Conference Finals — 10-4 overall.

James O’Brien: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 1-1 in Conference Finals — 9-5 overall.

Ryan Dadoun: 4-for-8 in Round 1, 2-2 in Round 2, 1-1 in Conference Finals — 7-7 overall.

Cam Tucker: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 0-2 in Conference Finals — 8-6 overall.

Onto the Final we go…

Brough: Kings in 7

I picked the Kings to win the Cup before the season and also before the playoffs, so I can’t really change now. I’m not sleeping on the Rangers by any means — great goalie, emerging star on defense, good depth up front and on the back end, solid mix of youth and experience, healthy, and well-rested — but I don’t think they can match the power of L.A., which has already beaten three very good teams, including the defending champs. Sure, the Kings might be a bit tired, but remember they’ll get two days off before Game 1, then another two days between Games 1 and 2, and there’s a two-day break between Games 5 and 6, if necessary. The key for me is Jonathan Quick. He needs to be better than he was against the ‘Hawks, who it should be noted have made a lot of good goalies look average.

Yerdon: Kings in 7

It’s easy to understand why the Los Angeles Kings are seemingly everyone’s pick. They’ve got everything the New York Rangers have but more of it… except at one position. Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie the Kings will have seen in the playoffs and that means the Rangers have a great equalizer in their favor. That won’t be enough to get the Rangers to win it all, but it will be enough to treat us all to a legendary series.O’Brien: Kings in 6

Heading into the playoffs, I believed that two East teams could make the West’s best sweat: the Bruins and the Rangers. That holds true today; Martin St. Louis generates buckets of chances, Ryan McDonagh keeps climbing the defensive ranks and Henrik Lundqvist is one of the few goalies truly worthy of “elite” designation. Even so, if you apply the “your life depends on it” criteria, I’d pick the Kings every time. They already survived brutal competition and carry themselves like a force that simply won’t be denied. Expect a spirited fight from the Rangers, though.

Dadoun: Kings in 6

The resiliency the Kings have shown makes them hard to bet against. They overcame a 3-0 series deficit and came from behind in Game 7 against the defending Stanley Cup champions. That’s to say nothing of the fact that they now have the all-time points leader in Game 7s (Justin Williams) and have won 10 of 11 series under Kings coach Darryl Sutter — these are just the tip of the iceberg, though, as you could point to almost any player on the team and reference an example of them being the hero in 2014. On paper, they’re hard to top and in practice, keeping them down is almost unheard of.

Tucker: Kings in 6

The New York Rangers have had a great run, especially after coming back to defeat Pittsburgh in seven games in the second round. St. Louis, enduring the tragedy of the sudden passing of his mother, has been an inspirational story for his play. But the Kings … how do you not pick the Kings? Three times in these playoffs, they’ve gone into an opposing team’s building in a Game 7 and won. It started in historical fashion in the first round and their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final was punched with another gutsy effort against Chicago. They also have the benefit of having been to this stage two years ago.

Halford: Rangers in 7

What, you thought I was going to follow the crowd? For all the talk about L.A.s’ resiliency, do remember the Rangers rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in franchise history this postseason, and have won two Game 7s to L.A.’s three — one of them coming on the road, in Pittsburgh, to clinch their historic comeback. There’s also the goaltending factor. Lundqvist is playing like a man on a mission this postseason and, as we saw in the case of Tim Thomas during in 2011 and Quick two years ago, one hot goalie can greatly alter the outcome of  the Stanley Cup Final. (And hey, it’s not like Quick has been on fire lately.)

  1. bcsteele - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Honestly…as a Blues fan…I’m just hoping for a great series that goes 7 games. My gut is telling me the Kings will win but my heart is hoping King Henrik finally gets his cup. In my lowly opinion he deserves it more than anyone else on these two teams.

    • toews19 - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      Same here. I’m just hoping for a good series. There are multiple players from each team that I’d enjoy seeing raise the Cup, but none stand out more than Hank. Really excited for the game.

  2. hockey412 - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    I’m with ya Halford.

  3. pjblake2redwings - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    It will not go 7 games

  4. Fertility Doctor - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    I’m surprised at how little we’ve heard the cries from penguins fans this time of year. Where’d they all go?

    • theageofquarrel - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Why does it matter? The Penguins have been out for weeks now. I’m guessing you are just trying to stir s**t up.

    • hockey412 - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      We’re still here, d-bag, and have been here. Just not crying – nothing to cry about. Now take all 11 of your thumbs up and shove them right up your bloghole.

  5. capsnbohs23 - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Kings in 6. They have played tougher teams to get there. If it goes 7 then its impossible to go against Hank. He is unreal game 7’s

  6. joey4id - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Me: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 2-0 in Conference Finals 10-4 overall.

    Kings in 6
    The Rangers have a chance to win if Lundqvist plays lights out for every minute of every game. They are being perceived as the underdogs, and no one on the Rangers is publicly disputing that. Listening to AV and the players it’s easy to assess that the team’s strategy is to play the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s crafty, wise, and it’s the “rope a dope” approach. Rangers have not faced as formidable opponents as the Kings have, and neither team has had to face great goaltending. The Kings play a relentless game with physicality and intensity unmatched by any other team in these playoffs.

    • biffnasty - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      Me: 8-0 round 1, 4-0 round 2, 2-0 conference finals, 14-0 overall.
      The series will go the distance.
      The kings are deep and Quick can be great, but Henry is better and will be the deciding factor.
      Rangers in 7.

      • barkar942 - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        I agree with you except for one thing, it will be Rangers in 6, not 7.

      • mobil4life - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        Shut up

      • joey4id - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        Excellent! Hope you’re buying lotto tickets.

  7. nebbah306 - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Everyone keeps mentioning how the Rangers played sub-par competition, but no one mentions the fact that the Kings havent come close to playing a goalie of Lundqvists caliber. The Ducks resorted to an AHL goalie, Niemi had a rough series, and Crawford didn’t look too great either.

    Also, everyone calls the Kings this offensive powerhouse, but they managed 2 goals against the Rangers in 2 games and the Kings were 26th in goals scored this year.

    In these playoffs, the NY Rangers have the best 5 on 5 goals scored/goals scored against ratio and a better goals against average per game than the Kings, while the Kings do have a better goals scored per game.

    Let’s Go Rangers!!!

    • hrudey - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Meanwhile, the Kings had the best regular season defense to go along with those awful offensive numbers, and it’s not like the Rangers have faced a high-end goalie or defense either. I’m really curious to see if the Kings go back to their more traditional defense, forecheck and cycling the puck play that they’re really built for now that they’re facing a team that’s not trying to outgun them. Should be fun either way.

  8. bmoreredfury311 - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    You guys should post the link to refresh our memories on who picked who to win at the beginning of the playoffs. Just curious.

  9. gaborik104life - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    First off yes I am a rangers fans and thus bias will probably occur however lots of things are being mentioned about how good the west is compared to the team the kings are going to face. Honestly the kings being the favorites is correct no doubt about it.
    However this is not the team that struggled in the beginning of the season or the same team prior to the 3-1 deficit to the pens in which they rallied around the St. Louis situation. Have the rags faced a goalie of quick’s caliber? No however quick is not playing lights out or exceptional and the kings have not played a goalie of hank’s caliber who according to tons of people who are around the team is in a zone not yet seen in his career as in his focus and determination to win . As for the teams the kings have played they are quality teams no doubt about it. However each team had major flaws that the nyr do not have. All had goaltending that was no where near Hank’s level letting in softies in a lot of the games played. An equal top 4 to the rags was only present in the Chicago team who had great forwards and d as mentioned however not a goalie that could steal games. Finally Av has done a great job of line matching and spreading the minutes equally to the point of it being considered a masterful job on his part. So while the kings do have the advantage people need to stop saying that the kings have it won, should sweep, and played for the cup already although I hope the kings feel that way so the rags can surprise everyone and lift the cup.

    • seitz26 - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      You’re absolutely correct. Bias did indeed occur.

  10. doknyc - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    rangers in 6.. lundqvist get his cup, and his conn smythe in the garden….

    all close games though.. maybe a few OT sessions to give all us rangers and kings fans some extra paranoia and nervousness, not to mention the NHL, in cahoots with your local watering hole, will benfit greatly!!

    good luck to both, but let go rangers (clap clap clapclapclap)!!!

  11. tronn25 - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Halford, you are awful. I’m so glad you have taken the Rangers! That has been the only thing you have written in the past 6 months that wasn’t complete rubbish!

    GKG!

    • Mike Halford - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      So I was doing alright seven months ago? Cool. I can live with that.

  12. projectmayhem11 - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    @halford: in referencing the “historic comeback” towards the rangers, um, the kings came from behind 3-0 to the sharks and won game 7 on the road…that’s historic. Not slighting the rangers but they had the easier road to the SCF (a slumping Crosby, a shaky fleury, a mediocre flyers team, a price-less Canadians team) compared to the kings. Kings in 6 because this series reeks of comparisons to the kings/devils finals two years ago (an east coast team riding the coat tails of a hot goalie). Only takes you so far: kings in 6!

    • nebbah306 - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      Do you recall the fact that the Ducks had AHL rookie netminder John Gibson in net? Or the shaky Niemi?

      Yes, the Kings had a tougher road but not by a huge stretch.

    • Mike Halford - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Just meant it was “historic” because it was the first time in franchise history the Rangers rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

  13. theskinsman - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    This Bruins fan is on the Rangers bandwagon. The hot goaltender has to make the difference.

  14. McFaddensPulledHammy - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    My heart says Rangers because I don’t want 2 in 3 for LA (would rather have 3 in 6 for the IndianHead). I will be rooting for the Rangers.

    Henrik steals at least 1 because he is that good.

    But how can you go against LA in 7?

    • nebbah306 - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Lundqvist has won 5 straight game 7’s with unbelievable GAA and save % to go with the wins.

      • hrudey - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        And on the other side you’ve got a goalie who’s never lost a game 7, the coach with the most game 7 wins ever, and a team full of players with absurdly good records in game 7s, including the guy who has scored more points in game 7s than any player ever to play in the NHL. Lundqvist’s 5-1 record in game 7s is good, of course, and it’s because he’s a hell of a goalie, but when it comes to game 7 success the Kings have more of that history than the King.

  15. rupp246 - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Goaltending…goaltending….goaltending….I’ve waited 20 years for this, rangers in 6.

  16. stakex - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    I think a lot of people will be shocked at the outcome of this series, and here’s why:

    When you break down the numbers, the only reason the Kings are in the finals is pretty shocking actually…. offense. The Kings went from 2.42 goals per game during the season (26th) to 3.48 in the first 21 games of the playoffs. That’s almost a half goal more per game than any other team, and yet they still needed 21 games to get here. Why was their road so tough despite how much they were scoring? Because the rest of their game wasn’t very good. The Kings defense was iffy at times, and Quick looks nothing like he did two years ago. Problem for the Kings is that the Rangers have by far the best defense they have seen yet, and Lundqvist is playing FAR better than any of the second rate goalies they have faced. That ridiculous goals per game average for the Kings is going bye bye, and if they can’t recapture their solid defensive play…. its going to be a problem.

    Also, the idea that the Kings are some sort of amazing team that is far superior to the Rangers is suspect on its face. After a shaky start, the Rangers played to a 110 point pace over the last 3/4 of the season. That’s pretty damn good, and the Kings were certainly not one of the power house teams in the West this year that everyone in the East feared. They are a great team, no doubt about it….. but so are the Rangers, who have been every bit as good as the Kings in getting to the Cup.

    Anyway, expect a much different series than the pundits are predicting. The Kings are going to look like the lesser team as the Rangers run right over them to win the Cup on home ice, in game 6.

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