The New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings are currently locked in a battle for this year's Stanley Cup, but according to Helene Elliott from the Los Angeles Times, the Kings have the advantage thanks, in part, to their improbable ability to bounce back from deficits. She joined Bill Littlefield to explain.
BL: The Kings won Game 1 on Wednesday. How important is breaking on top in this series?
HE: Well, it really hasn’t meant a whole lot for the Kings. They just seem to wait for Game 7 to pull their magic. They became the first team to win three seven-game series to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. I mean, it started out with them falling behind 3-0 to San Jose in the first round – which feels like years ago – then they were behind in the second round to the Ducks, 3-2, and they ended up winning that.
In Game 7 in Chicago they had three different deficits to overcome before they won that one in overtime, and in Game 1 against the Rangers, they were down 2-0 almost before most of the crowd sat down at the Staples Center. So these guys are really resilient. It’s just been a remarkable thing to see.
[sidebar title="Lundqvist on OAG" width="330" align="right"]Bill caught up with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in January ahead of the Sochi Olympics.[/sidebar]BL: In getting to the Finals, the Rangers haven’t needed very many goals. Is “sensational” an adequate adjective for the way their goalkeeper, Henrik Lundqvist, has been playing?
HE: Absolutely. They don’t call him “The King” for nothing. I mean, this guy is a tremendous goaltender who’s meant an awful lot to them, and it’s remarkable that this is only the first time that he’s played in the Stanley Cup Finals. He’s just so excellent; you would think that he has a couple of Stanley Cup championships on his resume, but this is his first time in the Finals.
BL: OK, we’ve reached prognostication time. I don’t know if you can put aside what’s bound to be an obvious “West Coast bias” and give us a clear-eyed prediction?
[sidebar title="Southern California's Growing Hockey Rivalry" width="330" align="right"] It's not Boston-Montreal, but Los Angeles and Anaheim have a budding rivalry. [/sidebar]
HE: Hey, hey, hey, “West Coast bias.” Not to brag, but I did call the Kings’ wins exactly in each of the first three rounds and for the Stanley Cup Final I called the Kings in six. So, I’m gonna stick with that.
BL: Well, give the Rangers fans something to feel good about, or something to at least be hopeful about.
HE: Well, they have a great goaltender, and their speed has actually been a great weapon for them all through the playoffs. Particularly the speed on their wings has given opposing defenses a lot of problems, and it’s certainly giving the Kings problems as well. But I just think the Kings are deeper, they’re more experienced, and that comeback ability is something you can’t teach.
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