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New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings – 2014 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1 – Betting Preview and Prediction

The New York Rangers’ wait is over. They now have an opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals after seeing the Los Angeles Kings dethrone the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. Will the Rangers take a step closer toward bringing the Cup back to New York for the first time since 1994? Or will the Kings show no signs of fatigue after winning their third Game 7 of the Playoffs, and win Game 1 of the NHL Finals?

For the third-straight time, the Rangers will begin a series away from home. The Rangers are 4-1 in their last five road games, and are looking to steal at least a game in Los Angeles before going back home for Game 3.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be the focal point of the Rangers. Arguably the best goalie in these Playoffs, Lundqvist could be in for another acid test against the hard-charging Los Angeles offense. The Swedish netminder enters the series with an NHL-leading 2.03 GAA and .928 SV% in this postseason, and his ability to shut down any given team’s offense will be a big factor from Game 1 onwards.

On offense, Martin St. Louis will be the man to watch, as the veteran leads the Rangers in these Playoffs with 13 points (six goals and seven assists). However, Rick Nash has broken out of his slump, and that means a more dangerous offense for the Rangers. After scoring zero goals in the first two rounds, the bruising forward came alive in the conference finals against Montreal, scoring three goals and registering two assists in the six-game series.

The Rangers are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Betting on the Los Angeles Kings

After surviving three Game 7s as the lower-seeded team, the Kings will finally enjoy home-ice advantage and will begin the Stanley Cup Finals at home, where they are 3-1 in their last four games.

When the Kings won the Cup in 2012, they did so as a defense-first team, with Jonathan Quick anchoring the club’s suffocating defense. However, things have changed, and the Kings are returning to the Finals backed by goals.

Los Angeles is the NHL’s top scoring team in these Playoffs, with an average of 3.48 GF/G. The Kings’ top line consisting of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown has rekindled its lethal touch, scoring five goals in Los Angeles’ last four games. The Kings’ second line, however, is just as dangerous, if not even deadlier. Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli produced 11 goals and 10 assists in the series against the Blackhawks.

The bulk of the Kings’ offense has come from the second line, but with the first line starting to pick up its production, Los Angeles will be a better team than it was in the Western Conference Finals, which is saying a lot, considering the Kings were matched against the defending champions in that series.

The over is 6-0 in the Kings’ last six games.

Writer’s Prediction

Henrik Lundqvist is going to be a tough customer in the net, but the Kings (-155) will get to him and the Rangers in Game 1.

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