Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers

Article excerpt

Season series: Tied, 1-1.

Difference makers: Kings C Anze Kopitar doesn't just lead these playoffs in points (24) and assists (19), but likely has been the best defensive forward through the first three rounds. If he's not the front-runner to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP, it might only be because teammate Drew Doughty, who leads all defensemen with 16 points, has been typically brilliant. New York G Henrik Lundqvist, who has set a franchise record with 42 career playoff victories, will have to be at his best to make an upset possible, but that's hardly out of the question. Although Rangers D Ryan McDonagh wasn't much of a force for the first 10 or 11 playoff games, he has been excellent since and put up 10 points in six games against Montreal in the Eastern Conference final.

Special teams: Los Angeles has a lethal power play with a success rate of 25.4 percent and C Jeff Carter (four man-advantage goals) as the top trigger man, but New York's penalty-killing, which ranks second in the playoffs with a success rate of 85.9 percent, is formidable. The Rangers have been ordinary at best with the extra man, converting 13.6 percent of their opportunities, although the Kings defense hardly has been airtight while short-handed (81.2).

Noteworthy: New York's biggest edge in the series will be having three more days of rest than the Kings, who barely survived a seven- game classic against Chicago. ... The Kings are the first team in Stanley Cup history to reach the final by winning three Games 7 on the road. ... If strength down the middle really matters, the Kings - - with Kopitar, Carter and Mike Richards -- have a significant edge, although New York's lines are well-balanced. …

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