Stanley Cup Finals Under the Bright Lights of New York
The Rangers will host the Kings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden with the opening face-off slated for 8:05 PM ET. The Kings hold a commanding 3-0 series lead, and with a win would capture their 2nd Stanley Cup in 3 years. According to NHL betting odds, the Rangers are a -135 money line home favorite, and the posted total is 5.0.
Jonathan Quick Returns to Form
One of the more intriguing aspects of this deep playoff run by the Kings, was the fact that they were doing it without Jonathan Quick being on top of his game. After all, this was a Kings team that averaged just 2.4 goals per game during the regular season, but allowed the fewest goals in the NHL. It would only stand to reason, that in order for them to have postseason success, they were going to have to do it with excellent goaltending, stifling defense, and being opportunistic offensively, with all of those traits being their trademark over the last few seasons. However, the Kings have turned into an offensive juggernaut during the playoffs, averaging 3.5 goals per game, which is best among 16-teams that qualified for the postseason. It must be noted, that when they needed a big game from their star goaltender, he was up to the task in a 3-0 road win on Monday. Jonathan Quick stopped all 32 Rangers shots on goal, for his 2nd shutout in 24 playoff starts in 2014.
Rangers Attempt to Stave off Elimination
The Rangers face the unenviable task of attempting to be just the 5th team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit. The eternal optimist would say, take it one game at a time, and the task won't seem as overwhelming. Well that's certainly easier said than done. This has been a Rangers club that's been inexplicably much better on the road this season than at home. They've gone just 26-26 at Madison Square Garden this season, and solely in light of that fact, it's remarkable that they've advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. They could take solace in knowing that the first 2-games of the series were decided in overtime, and easily could've gone their way. Then in Game 3, they held a huge territorial edge by outshooting the Kings 32-15, but fell victim to some hot goaltending. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers come out with an inspired effort in an attempt to prolong the series, or do they throw in the proverbial towel if they fall behind early?
The Rangers have gone 7-1 the last 2 postseasons, including 4-0 during these playoffs when facing elimination. When assessing this series, it's not as though the Kings have dominated despite their commanding 3-0 lead. Rangers fans had to wait 20 years between Stanley Cup Finals appearances, and it will be highly unlikely that they will allow their team to lay down in their home building this evening. I look for a couple of the bounces to go the a Rangers way tonight.
Free Hockey Pick: Rangers -135 over the Kings for your NHL pick tonight.