NHL

Your! Call: Which team will win the Stanley Cup?

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Mike Hetherington, TSN.ca Staff
6/2/2014 11:21:08 PM
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With just two teams left vying for the Stanley Cup, one question remains to be answered; will the experienced Los Angeles Kings win their second championship in three years, or will the underdog New York Rangers end their 20-year Stanley Cup drought?

The Kings hold the advantage in experience between the two teams, returning to the Final after winning it all in 2012.

Conversely, the Rangers find themselves in the Cup final for the first time since the team last won the Stanley Cup in 1994, when Mark Messier captained the team.

The Rangers understand the Kings enter this series as the favourite, but plan to approach this series the same way the team approached their previous three.

"Throughout these playoffs, and it's not going to change now, we've been the underdog," Rangers coach Alan Vigneault said on Monday. "But what we've done is focus on how we play and what we need to do on the ice."

The Rangers enter the series as the slightly more rested team after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in six games after taking their previous two series to Game 7.

The Kings, meanwhile, enter the Final after becoming the first team in NHL history to win three straight Game 7's on the road. For the first time in these playoffs, the Kings go into a series with home-ice advantage.

One matchup that could be a determining factor has Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist going up against the explosive offence of the Kings.

The Rangers have used strong goaltending from Lundqvist throughout the playoffs to reach the Stanley Cup Final. The 32-year-old posted a 2.03 goals against average and a .928 save percentage through the first three playoff rounds.

The Kings offence has benefited from a wealth of players scoring points in order to return to the Final. Six Kings have more points in these playoffs than the Rangers' leading scorer, Martin St. Louis.

Anze Kopitar leads the playoff in scoring with 24 points, and assists with 19. Linemate Marion Gaborik enters the series having scored more goals (12) than anyone else in the first three rounds. Teammate Jeff Carter is second with nine, while Justin Williams and Tyler Toffoli each have seven goals.

For the Rangers, St. Louis has six goals and seven assists in the playoffs. St. Louis has been the emotional leader of the Rangers as the team has rallied around the veteran since the sudden passing of his mother during their second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Rangers will try to help Lundqvist by finding ways to score on Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who has posted a 2.86 GAA and a .906 save percentage in 21 playoff games leading to the Final. Quick, however, has experience playing in the Cup final and stopped 125 of the 132 shots he faced against the New Jersey Devils in 2012 en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Overall, the Kings and Rangers used different strategies to reach the Final. The Kings outscored their opponents 73-60 in the first three rounds, while the Rangers outscored their opponents 54-45.

Will the Kings cruise on the strength of their offence and goaltending to win their second Stanley Cup in three years?

Or will Lundqvist continue his playoff dominance and lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup victory in 20 years?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Lundqvist stops Pearson (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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