It wasn’t a likely matchup at the start of the NHL playoffs, but the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings are set to meet in the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Kings enter the best-of-seven series as the favorites to win their second title in franchise history. Bovada.lv has placed their betting odds at -170. The Rangers come in at +150.
New York has reached the finals for the first time in 20 years. They didn’t have a dominant regular season by any means, entering the playoffs as the No.5 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. They were underdogs to start their last two series, and rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the second round. Prior to the start of the postseason, eight other teams had better than the Rangers’ 20/1 odds of winning the Cup.
Los Angeles has experienced some recent championship success, winning the Cup in 2012, and losing in the conference finals last year. They had a very tough road through the West, ending the season with 100 points and still finishing sixth in the conference. They beat the top two seeds in the Pacific Division, as well as the defending champs, en route to the finals. Their championship odds before the playoffs stood at 10/1.
The Kings have home-ice advantage, but that might not mean much against the Rangers. New York was the best road team in the conference with 25 wins. In the playoffs, the Rangers have the same amount of road and home wins. L.A. has recorded seven of its 12 postseason victories away from Staples Centers, including three Game Seven victories on the road.
Both teams are led by elite goalies. The Kings’ Jonathan Quick ranked fifth in the regular season, as the 2012 Conn Smyth Trophy winner allowed 2.07 goals per game. For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist has carried them to the finals, recording a 92.8 save percentage in the playoffs.
Recently, the oddsmakers have been mostly accurate in projecting the Stanley Cup winner. Three of the last four NHL champions entered the series as the favorite. The lone exception was the Boston Bruins in 2011.