Welcome to the “Morning Skate: Stanley Cup Final Edition,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the NHL. Feel free to forward this email to colleagues who may be interested and encourage them to sign up by clicking here.
All Times Eastern
NY Rangers @ Los Angeles, Game 1, 8:00 p.m., NBC, CBC, RDS
In the U.S., NBC will broadcast Games 1 and 2 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and, if necessary, Games 5-7. NBCSN will telecast Games 3 and 4. In Canada, CBC and RDS will televise the entire series. Not sure where to find the game? Use our channel finder:
The Kings and Rangers open the 2014 Stanley Cup Final with Game 1 at STAPLES Center. This marks the third all-time playoff meeting between the Kings and Rangers and first since 1981. New York has won both of their previous matchups: in the 1979 Preliminary Round (2-0) and 1981 Preliminary Round (3-1). In their six total postseason games, the Rangers have outscored the Kings 32-14.
Series Notes:
* The 2014 Stanley Cup Final pits the cities of Los Angeles and New York against each other for the first time in NHL history. It also marks the first championship meeting between these cities (among the fourth North American professional sports leagues) since 1981, when MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in six games to win the World Series.
* The Stanley Cup Final features two goaltenders who started for their respective countries in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (USA) vs. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (SWE). Quick posted a 3-2 record in the tournament with a 2.17 goals-against average and .923 save percentage, while Lundqvist went 5-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and two shutouts to help Sweden capture the silver medal.
* Both teams have received offensive boosts from Trade Deadline acquisitions: Kings forward (and former Ranger) Marian Gaborik leads the NHL with 12 goals in the playoffs and has 17 markers in 40 total games with the club, while Martin St. Louis is tied for first among Rangers with 6-7—13 in 20 postseason outings.
* Gaborik’s 12 goals in 21 playoff games match his output from his final 45 contests with the Rangers (spanning the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs and 2012-13 regular season). He had six goals in 25 total postseason outings with New York.
* Signed by the Rangers as a free agent on July 1, 2009, Gaborik was traded to the Blue Jackets on April 3, 2013, in a deal that brought current Rangers Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore to Broadway.
* The Rangers’ roster features two former Kings: Brian Boyle, who was drafted by Los Angeles 26th overall in 2003 and played 36 games with the club, posting 8-2—10, before being traded to New York on July 27, 2009, and Daniel Carcillo, who played 26 games with the Kings to begin the 2013-14 season before being traded to the Rangers on Jan. 4.
* The Kings and Rangers both played the maximum 14 games through the opening two rounds of the postseason; they are the first teams in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup Final when doing so.
* Kings head coach Darryl Sutter faces off against Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault in the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals, when Sutter and the No. 8-seeded Kings defeated Vigneault, then the head coach of the No. 1-seeded Canucks, in five games en route to capturing the Stanley Cup.
* The Kings and Rangers split their two meetings during the 2013-14 regular season, with each team winning on the road.
* The Kings are making their third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final (1993, 2012). They are 1-1 all-time, with their lone championship coming in 2012.
* The Rangers are making their 11th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final (1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1940, 1950, 1972, 1979, 1994). They are 4-6 all-time, with their most recent championship coming in 1994.
* The Kings will have home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. They also will have home-ice advantage for just the second time overall since 1992 (23 total series).
* There will be a new Stanley Cup champion for the 15th consecutive season. The last team to repeat: the Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
Kings Notes:
* The Kings are the first team in NHL history to play the maximum 21 games en route to advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. Only two other teams in Stanley Cup Playoffs history have played the maximum 21 games through the opening three rounds: the 1993 Maple Leafs and 2002 Avalanche, who both lost in the Conference Finals.
* The Kings won Game 7s on the road in each of the first three rounds – at SJ in the First Round (5-1), at ANA in the Second Round (6‑2) and at CHI in the Western Conference Final (5-4 OT). They are the second team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in one playoff year (following the Bruins in 2011) and the first to win three such games on the road.
* The Kings are 7-0 when facing elimination in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only one team in NHL history has posted more such wins in a single postseason: the 1975 Islanders (8).
* In the First Round, the Kings became the fourth team in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit when they rallied to beat SJ.
* The Kings also overcame a 3-2 series deficit in the Second Round vs. ANA. Prior to 2014, they had only accomplished that feat three times in franchise history: in the 1969 QF vs. OAK, 1989 DSF vs. EDM and 1993 CF vs. TOR.
* The Kings battled back from 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 deficits in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final at CHI. They became the second team this postseason to win a Game 7 without ever leading in the contest; the Wild also accomplished that feat in the First Round at COL (5-4 OT victory). Prior to 2014, the last time a team won a Game 7 without ever leading in the contest was in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals, also an overtime triumph by the Wild at COL (3-2).
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Kings became the sixth team in NHL history to advance to the Stanley Cup Final with a Game 7 overtime victory and the first to do so on the road. The others: the 1939 Bruins (Mel Hill), 1950 Red Wings (Leo Reise Jr.), 1968 Blues (Ron Schock), 1979 Canadiens (Yvon Lambert) and 1994 Rangers (Stephane Matteau). Of those five teams, four went on to win the Stanley Cup (lone exception: 1968 Blues).
* Justin Williams posted 1-1—2, including the primary assist on Alec Martinez’s overtime winner, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. He now has 7-7—14 in seven career Game 7s, all victories. With his performance, Williams passed Doug Gilmour (13) for the most points in Game 7 history and also tied Glenn Anderson for the most goals in Game 7s.
* Marian Gaborik leads the NHL with a career-high 12 goals in the playoffs (21 GP). He only had 11 goals during the regular season (41 GP), five of which came with the Kings following his acquisition at the Trade Deadline (19 GP).
* Gaborik now is tied with Luc Robitaille (12 goals in 1991) for the second-most goals in one playoff year in Kings history. Only Wayne Gretzky (15 in 1993) has scored more goals for the Kings in a single postseason.
* Anze Kopitar has registered at least one point in 17 of the team’s 21 playoff games, leading the NHL with 19 assists and 24 points. He has been held pointless in consecutive games just once since Dec. 21, a span of 67 outings (23-42—65).
* Kopitar now is one point shy of tying Tomas Sandstrom (8-17—25 in 1993) for the second-most points in one playoff year in Kings history. Gretzky holds the franchise record at 40 (15-25—40 in 1993).
* Tyler Toffoli leads all rookies with 7-6—13 in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He now holds the franchise rookie record for goals in one playoff year and is tied for the club rookie mark for points in a single postseason (Daryl Evans: 5-8—13 in 1982; Warren Rychel: 6-7—13 in 1993).
* Jeff Carter paces the Kings, and is tied for second in the NHL, with a career-high nine goals in the playoffs. He also ranks second in the League with 22 points, including consecutive three-plus point performances in Games 2 (3-1—4) and 3 (1-2—3) of the Western Conference Final.
* The Kings are 9-1 in their last 10 playoff series dating to 2012. They have played 59 postseason games in that span, tops in the NHL.
* Darryl Sutter recorded his seventh Game 7 victory behind the bench in the Western Conference Final (7-3), passing Scotty Bowman and Pat Burns for the most in NHL history. He also tied a Stanley Cup Playoffs record by coaching his 10th career Game 7 (a distinction shared with Claude Julien and Mike Keenan).
* In 2013-14, Jonathan Quick won his first career William M. Jennings Trophy as the goaltender who plays at least 25 games for the club allowing the fewest goals (174) during the regular season. He compiled a 27-17-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and six shutouts in 49 appearances, surpassing Rogie Vachon as the winningest goaltender in team history and moving within one of Vachon’s franchise record for shutouts.
* Seventeen of the 22 Kings players who appeared in a playoff game during their run to the 2012 Stanley Cup are still with the club: Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Colin Fraser, Matt Greene, Dwight King, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Willie Mitchell, Jordan Nolan, Jonathan Quick, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Slava Voynov and Justin Williams.
Rangers Notes:
* The Rangers have won five Game 7s over the last three playoff seasons, an unprecedented feat in NHL history. They also are the third team in NHL history to win five consecutive Game 7s (over any span), following the Red Wings (1949-64) and Bruins (1983-94).
* The Rangers are 10-2 in their last 12 postseason games when facing elimination (dating to Game 6 of 2012 CQF at OTT), including a 4-0 mark in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Henrik Lundqvist has started all 12 of those games, posting a 1.32 goals-against average, .957 save percentage and two shutouts.
* In the Second Round vs. PIT, the Rangers overcame a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in franchise history, a comeback with a historical success rate of less than 10% in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (27-248, .098). The only other time the team forced a Game 7 in that situation: the 1939 Semifinals, which they lost to the Bruins in triple-overtime of Game 7 (trailed 3-0 to begin series).
* Lundqvist recorded his 42nd career playoff win and ninth career postseason shutout in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. With the victory, Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for the most playoff wins in franchise history and tied him for the most shutouts.
* Lundqvist has won five consecutive Game 7s, an NHL record (previously shared with Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy and Cam Ward). Lundqvist has a 0.80 goals-against average, .973 save percentage and one shutout in those five games – he is the first goaltender in NHL history to allow one or fewer goals in five straight Game 7s.
* Lundqvist owns a 5-1 record with a 1.00 goals-against average, .965 save percentage and one shutout in six career Game 7s. That is tied with Johnny Bower (3-0, 1.00 GAA) and Dwayne Roloson (2-1, 1.00 GAA) for the lowest career goals-against average in Game 7s (minimum, 3 GP).
* Lundqvist is the fourth goaltender in NHL history to win five or more Game 7s, joining Martin Brodeur (6), Roy (6) and Belfour (5).
* Lundqvist has made 86 straight playoff starts; he is the third goaltender in NHL history to start 80 or more consecutive postseason games for one team. Brodeur holds the League record (194 with NJ), while Roy ranks second (133 with COL).
* In 20 appearances during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lundqvist leads the NHL with a .928 save percentage and ranks second with a 2.03 goals-against average.
* During the regular season, Lundqvist became the first goaltender in NHL history to reach the 30-win milestone in eight of his first nine NHL seasons. He also established two franchise records in a five-day span, becoming the Rangers’ all-time wins leader with his 302nd career victory on March 18 at OTT and the team’s all-time shutouts leader with his 50th career shutout on March 22 at NJ.
* Ryan McDonagh finished the Eastern Conference Final with eight helpers and 10 points, tops among both teams. He became the first defenseman in Rangers history to collect eight assists in a playoff series and only the second to record at least 10 points. The other: Brian Leetch, who posted 5-6—11 in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final vs. VAN en route to capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy.
* McDonagh set career highs in goals (14), assists (29) and points (43) in 77 games during the regular season while averaging a team-best 24:49 of ice time. His 14 goals were the most by a Rangers defenseman since 2000-01, when Leetch found the back of the net 21 times.
* With the Rangers’ Game 7 victory in the Second Round at PIT, Brad Richards improved to 7-0 in seven career Game 7s, becoming the second player in NHL history to win seven consecutive Game 7s (at any point in a career; Red Kelly: 7-0). Kings forwards Marian Gaborik, Mike Richards and Justin Williams tied that mark in the Conference Finals, all improving 7-0 in Game 7s. The only players in NHL history to earn more Game 7 victories: Glenn Anderson and Ray Bourque, who each had eight.
* The Rangers are 10-0 during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when leading after two periods. Including the regular season, they have won 38 of 41 games in 2013-14 when holding a lead after 40 minutes.
* Four of the last six Rangers teams that have reached the Stanley Cup Final, including each of the past three, have featured a head coach in his first year with the club: 2013-14 (Alain Vigneault), 1993-94 (Mike Keenan), 1978-79 (Fred Shero) and 1939-40 (Frank Boucher). Lynn Patrick also guided the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in his first full season as the team’s head coach in 1949-50 (he took over midway through the 1948-49 season).
* During the regular season, the Rangers led the Eastern Conference and established a franchise record for road wins in one season (25) and became the only team to win at least 24 road games in three of the last four seasons.
* Ten current Rangers skated for the Blueshirts during their run to the 2012 Eastern Conference Final: Brian Boyle, Dan Girardi, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Brad Richards, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan and Anton Stralman.
Teams winning Game 1 have gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup 77.0% of the time since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939 (57-of-74 series).
“This is the Cup Final. There’s no extra motivation needed. This isn’t Game 42 of the regular season. This is what we all play for. We’re the only show in town. You want to give it your all. You don’t know when you’re going to be back here.” – Kings forward Justin Williams
“Since my first couple of days at the training center and seeing that photo [of the parade down the Canyon of Heroes] from ’94, I’ve been walking by that photo every day for nine years. And I’ve seen myself being them and I definitely want to be there. It’s been a dream for a long time, and to be in this position it’s extremely exciting . . . I know this next step will be the toughest one to take. But to me personally, it would mean everything to win.” – Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
“It’s been a pretty crazy playoff. A lot of goals. A lot of weird bounces. I’m sure everybody is going to try to tighten it up here . . . We know what we’re up against, and we’re going to have to leave it all out there.” – Kings forward Jeff Carter
“As you get older, these are the opportunities you want to have . . . Everything that’s gone on this year for me, and I have this opportunity. I count my blessings.” – Rangers forward Martin St. Louis
“That’s the test during the playoffs. We’re happy with what we’ve done, but we have a lot more to do. We want to come out and win this series. We want the Stanley Cup. You enjoy [advancing to the Final] for a day and you refocus and get ready to take on the Rangers.” – Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin
“It’s starting to sink in a little bit. If you’re not excited at this point, I don’t know what you’re thinking. I’ve been excited since the buzzer went off in Game 6.” – Rangers forward Derek Stepan
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final. I don’t think any team is going to look at themselves as the underdogs. You’re down to two teams, and you want to win, and that’s all it really comes down to. It’s an exciting time of the year to be a part of it.” – Kings defenseman Matt Greene
“After we beat Montreal, walking around the city, you can tell New York is so excited about our team. There is no better feeling. So I’m soaking it all in and will until we step on the ice. But when the puck drops, it’s really going to hit me.” – Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi
“A couple of years ago, I didn’t get much sleep before the first game. Now it’s a little bit more relaxed. You’ve been there. You know how it works. It’s just a little bit easier to get prepared for it. At the same time, you’ve got to get prepared for it and you’ve got to get your head in the right place.” – Kings forward Anze Kopitar
“We need to defend. We need to skate. I think we’ve all seen what can be accomplished when we operate that way and it’s exciting. Now we have to push ourselves to reach that level and even surpass it in this round.” – Rangers forward Brian Boyle
“It’s a little weird, obviously [playing against the Rangers], but it’s something special. Going to [Madison Square Garden] for my first time to play them is going to be different. I’m going to take this opportunity and take it and just leave everything out there.” – Kings forward Marian Gaborik
“Both rooms have faced adversity. These guys, even the year they won it [in 2012], there’s just no quit in that room. I’ve been in that room. I know the guys that are in that room. I look around our room and I see a lot of the same guys, a lot of the same characters. You really do need that. When you’re up against the wall and you’re tested. What are you going to do? Are you going to quit, or are you going to push through? All these guys have pushed through.” – Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo
The NHL announced the officials for the 2014 Stanley Cup Final:
Linesmen: Derek Amell, Scott Driscoll, Shane Heyer, Brad Kovachik
Referees: Steve Kozari, Wes McCauley, Dan O’Halloran, Brad Watson
The 2014 Stanley Cup Final Information Guide, including notes on the Kings and Rangers as well as a history of the Final, is available for download via the NHL’s Media site.
Through three rounds, the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are the most-watched in 17 years. NBC, NBCSN and CNBC have combined to average 1.187 million viewers for 86 games, up 11% vs. last year (1.074 million for 78 games) and the most since FOX, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to average 1.237 million viewers for the first three rounds in 1997 . . . The Devils re-signed defenseman Marek Zidlicky . . . The Blue Jackets signed forward Simon Hjalmarsson from the Swedish Hockey League . . . The Maple Leafs signed goaltender Antoine Bibeau to an entry-level contract . . . ICYMI: Host Jimmy Fallon discussed winning his bet with the Canadiens on Monday’s episode of “The Tonight Show” (begins at 2:30) . . . Check out the trailer for the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
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