The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 4, 2014

Rangers, LA Kings ready for big Stanley Cup finish

— LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers have played 41 combined postseason games over the previous six weeks, they still have ample energy for the big finale to their epic playoff chase.

"No, you don't get tired right now," said Kings forward Marian Gaborik, the former 40-goal scorer for the Rangers. "All you think about is winning the Stanley Cup."

When they meet at Staples Center on Wednesday night to begin the first New York-L.A. Cup final in NHL history, the Rangers and Kings are prepared for one more exhausting series in a spring filled with two-week sagas, nail-biting finishes and Game 7 heroics.

No team in NHL history had made it to the Stanley Cup finals after going seven games in each of the first two rounds — until New York and Los Angeles both did it this spring. The Kings even went one longer, playing the maximum 21 games.

Yet neither team will be satisfied without one more achievement. The Rangers haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1994, while the Kings are just two years removed from their only NHL championship. Two franchises long familiar with losing have the chance to raise the Cup again, and the players already felt the energy building when they went through practices Tuesday.

"It's definitely been a grind, but that's why you play hockey," Kings forward Jeff Carter said. "We know what we went through to get here, and we're willing to go through a little more."

Five things to watch when the Kings host Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in franchise history:

PLAYING FAVORITES: Although Los Angeles won just one more regular-season game than New York, most hockey observers think the Kings are strong favorites after they survived three playoff rounds in the superior Western Conference. Neither team is listening: The Kings aren't interested in prognostication, and the Rangers relish the pressure-free role of an underdog. "It doesn't matter about public opinion, media opinion," New York's Martin St. Louis said. "We're still here, and we know we have a chance."

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