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NHL Finals could be ratings draw

06/04/2014, 12:00am EDT
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Stanley Cup finals will be a coast-to-coast matchup featuring teams within the nation's largest TV markets: New York and Los Angeles.

It looks like a win-win deal for the NHL.

The Rangers will draw a lot of viewers tuning in to see if they can win a championship for the first time in two decades. The Kings, meanwhile, have a shot to win it all for the second time in three seasons in what would be an impressive feat because of the league's salary cap.

Here is what to watch when the puck drops tonight in Los Angeles:

MOTIVATED MARIAN: The Rangers traded Marian Gaborik 14 months ago to Columbus and now, they've got to face him as he's peaking. Gaborik has an NHL-high 12 goals this postseason and he ranks fourth with 19 points.

THANKS CBJ PART II: Columbus traded Jeff Carter to the Kings two years ago. The Blue Jackets sent Rick Nash to New York in the summer of 2012. They dealt Derick Brassard, John Moore, and Derek Dorsett to the Rangers last year.

QUICK TURNAROUND: Even though the Rangers have to hit the road to begin the series, they should be the fresher team. New York eliminated Montreal last Thursday, giving it almost a full week off before Game 1. The Kings, meanwhile, played late Sunday night in Chicago for their third Game 7 this postseason, traveled home and may not have much time to rest before the puck drops.

CALL IT A COMEBACK: The Kings might be the toughest team to knock out in sports. They're the only NHL team to win three Game 7s on the road in one postseason.

LATE LEAD USUALLY SAFE: The Rangers are 10-0 in the postseason when leading after two periods.

LUCKY NUMBER 7S: The Kings trio of Gaborik, Mike Richards, and Justin Williams is 7-0 in Game 7s and goalie Jonathan Quick is 4-0 in decisive games. Williams has seven goals and seven assists in Game 7s, passing Doug Gilmour's NHL record for points and tying Glen Anderson for the most goals in league history in Game 7s. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter has surged past Scotty Bowman and Pat Burns for the most Game 7 victories — seven — in his career.

UP THE MIDDLE: The Kings appear to have a clear advantage at center. They've won 53 percent of faceoffs in the playoffs, trailing only Boston, while the Rangers rank 12th out of the 16 playoff teams.

TWO-WAY BLUE LINERS: Los Angeles and New York each have a playmaking defenseman. Drew Doughty has four goals, 12 assists. Ryan McDonagh leads the Rangers with 10 assists.

IN THE NET: Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in 2012 and New York‘s Henrik Lundqvist was voted the league's best goaltender that same year.

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