Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Monica McAlister on 05/17/14 at 08:49 AM ET
Hard to believe that today is the start of the NHL Conference Finals already. At 1 o’clock the New York Rangers will take on the Montreal Canadiens on NBC in the U.S. for the start to the Eastern Conference Final. Tomorrow afternoon on NBC the Los Angeles Kings will take on the Chicago Blackhawks so before the puck drops it is time for the Conference Finals predictions.
In the East there are plenty of narratives that can be the source of bonding and determination for both teams. The New York Rangers as a team will attended the funeral of Martin St. Louis’ mother on Sunday. The team has noted that the unexpected passing of his mother has brought the team together and given them a stronger bond.
While the Rangers have had to deal with loss off the ice the Montreal Canadiens have had their dealings with diversity and dealing with the issue of respect on and off the ice. From racist comments on social media to some reported threats in the hand shake line the Canadiens spent the last series involved in a heavily debated ethical and sportsmanship/gamesmanship debate that has dominated many of the hockey discussions on and offline.
Aside from the narratives both teams have great goaltending in Carey Price (MTL) and Henrik Lundqvist (NYR). PK Subban has been strong on the blue line as well as offensively for the Canadiens. While the Rangers have seen their goal scoring spread out across their players making it difficult for opponents to shut down their offence.
In the battle of the Red, White, and Blue vs Le Bleu, Blanc, Rouge I give the edge to the Montreal Canadiens in six.
Out in the wild West Chicago is seeing their star players hitting their strides at the right time. Coming back from injury to start the playoffs Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are playing clutch roles and leading a team with still the likes of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp into yet another deep playoff run.
The battles of California has seen the Kings go to Game Seven twice this post season already when they defeated a favorite for the Cup in the San Jose Sharks and then again last night when they eliminated the Anaheim Ducks 6-2.
If it feels a little like déjà vu it isn’t just you. The Kings and the Blackhawks were the 2013 Western Conference Finalists as well. History notes that the Blackhawks went on to defeat the Kings in five games a year ago and then on to win the cup. If the Blackhawks can once again get past the Kings they will be have a shot to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions; something that hasn’t been done since the 1997 & 1998 Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks have been off since Tuesday when they eliminated the Minnesota Wild in Game Six while the Kings played last night and the series is set to start tomorrow afternoon in Chicago.
In the West I am giving the edge to the Chicago Blackhawks in six.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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