Monday, June 30, 2014

NHL Draft Analysis

Free-agency begins tomorrow, and there is much to get through before then, and one of those things is the NHL Draft, which was completed this weekend.  The first round went according to plan...for the first five picks or so.  Because the depth was such that anyone could have gone anywhere, the draft rankings meant little in the grand scheme of things.

The complete first round:

1. Florida-Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie (OHL)
2. Buffalo-Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay (WHL)
3. Edmonton-Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
4. Calgary-Sam Bennett, C, Kingston (OHL)
5. NY Islanders-Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
6. Vancouver-Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary (WHL)
7. Carolina-Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL)
8. Toronto-William Nylander, C/RW, Modo (Sweden)
9. Winnipeg-Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
10. Anaheim (from Ottawa)-Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough (OHL)
11. Nashville-Kevin Fiala, LW, HV 71 Jr. (Sweden)
12. Arizona-Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara (OHL)
13. Washington-Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, Linkoping (Sweden)
14. Dallas-Julius Honka, D, Swift Current (WHL)
15. Detroit-Dylan Larkin, C, US NTDP (USHL)
16. Columbus-Sonny Milano, LW, US NTDP (USHL)
17. Philadelphia-Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary (WHL)
18. Minnesota-Alex Tuch, RW, US NTDP (USHL)
19. Tampa Bay-Anthony Deangelo, D, Sarnia (OHL)
20. Chicago (from San Jose)-Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay (USHL)
21. St. Louis-Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph (OHL)
22. Pittsburgh-Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Kalpa (Finland)
23. Colorado-Connor Bleakley, C, Red Deer (WHL)
24. Vancouver (from Anaheim)-Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
25. Boston-David Pastrnak, RW, Sodertalje (Sweden)
26. Montreal-Nikita Scherbak, RW, Saskatoon (WHL)
27. San Jose (from Chicago)-Nikolay Goldobin, RW, Sarnia (OHL)
28. NY Islanders (from Tampa Bay via NY Rangers)-Joshua Ho-Sang, C/RW, Windsor (OHL)
29. Los Angeles-Adrian Kempe, LW, Modo (Sweden)
30. New Jersey-John Quennville, C, Brandon (WHL)

The OHL led the way with ten players picked in the first round, with Sarnia being the only team in the league to have two players go in the first round.  The WHL was not far behind, with nine players, all of them coming from the Eastern Conference, and none of them coming from the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.  Red Deer and Calgary accounted for two each.  This is the second straight year that a goaltender was not taken in the first round.  The QMJHL had just one player go in the first round this year (Nikolaj Ehlers).

Aaron Ekblad is the first defenseman to be taken first overall since Erik Johnson in 2006 and is also the first Canadian defenseman taken in that spot since Chris Phillips in 1996.  Leon Draisaitl is the highest German-trained player taken, but not the highest German-born (Dany Heatley went second overall in 2000 and was born in Germany).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Winterhawks in Transition

The WHL will be having new faces in the head coaching position for eight teams, and two of them were in the Conference Finals last season.  As mentioned yesterday, the Kelowna Rockets saw Ryan Huska leave them for a head coaching job with the Adirondack Flames (previously the Abbotsbord Heat) of the AHL.  Dan Lambert was promoted to the head coaching job for the Rockets from assistant.

Today, it was the Portland Winterhawks' turn, as they will be looking to replace Mike Johnston, as he accepted the job coaching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  Both players, as you may remember, play for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL.  This move means that the Winterhawks will be looking to replace a head coach and a general manager, since Johnston was both since the 2008-09 season.  This move is on the heels of last year's Winterhawks coaching staff purge, when Travis Green, who was an assistant coach and interim coach when Johnston was suspended for much of the 2012-13 season, was tabbed to coach the Utica Comets of the AHL.  As for Johnston, he leaves behind a team that he took from the basement to four straight Western Conference titles and a WHL title, as well as six players that would be taken in the first round of the NHL Draft.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Hall Calls

Yesterday, the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame class was announced, and four players, plus coach Pat Burns and referee Bill McCreary will all be inducted into the Hall of Fame in November.  The four players, Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, and Dominik Hasek, all have six Stanley Cups, four gold medals, and three Hart Trophies between them, and all except Blake got in on the first ballot (Blake made it on his second try).

Modano was the first overall pick in 1988 out of Prince Albert and not only became the face of the Dallas Stars franchise after they moved from Minnesota in 1993, but was also an integral part of some very good U.S. teams in the late 90's-early 2000's.  He won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 and was best known for his game-breaking speed.  He holds the record for most points by an American all-time, and he also holds the record for most playoff points by an American.

Forsberg's legend was written before he started play in the NHL in 1995.  A first round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, he was a part of the huge Eric Lindros trade of 1992 and was immortalized on a postage stamp in 1994 after he scored the shootout winner in the gold medal game in that year's Olympics.  He would go on to win two Stanley Cups with Colorado and a Hart Trophy in 2003.

Hasek was a late bloomer who didn't experience success until a 1992 trade to Buffalo.  He would wrestle the starting job away from Grant Fuhr in 1994 and would not look back, as he became the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy, which he did twice, took home Olympic gold in 1998, and win the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008.

Blake spent his career with Los Angeles, Colorado, and San Jose, winning the Norris Trophy in 1998, a Stanley Cup in 2001, and Olympic gold in 2002.  He was often overshadowed by the likes of Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios, and Ray Bourque, but he was a great player in his own right, particularly on some lean teams in Los Angeles.

Pat Burns was head coach for 14 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, and Boston Bruins.  A three time Jack Adams winner, he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2003.  He succumbed to cancer in 2010, and will be posthumously honored this year.

Bill McCreary was an official for 29 seasons, working three Olympics (1998, 2002, 2010), working the gold medal game in each one, 44 Stanley Cup Finals games, and the 1991 and 1994 Canada Cup tournaments.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Coaching Job Open in Kelowna

The Kelowna Rockets are looking for a new head coach as of today.  Of course, it may not take very long, as the Rockets are slated to hold a press conference at 1 PM local time with owner Bruce Hamilton, the now ex-coach Ryan Huska, and assistant coach Dan Lambert.

Huska will be moving from the Rockets to the Adirondack Flames of the AHL to become their new head coach.  Huska became the Rockets head coach in 2007 and amassed 303 wins and led the Rockets to a WHL championship in 2009.  This season, he led the Rockets to a Scotty Munro Trophy for best regular season record and led them to the Western Conference finals.  As for who could take Huska's place, the Rockets may look no further than Lambert, who has been with the Rockets since 2009.

Meet the Mavericks

In the five years that the Missouri Mavericks have been in existence, this blog has not once given them a bit of press for reasons unknown to this scribe.  Today is a chance to change that, so in an effort to make good on covering a hockey team that is actually in my back yard, the Mavericks will get an introduction and a brief overview of their history.

The Missouri Mavericks were founded in 2009 and began play in the 2009-10 Central Hockey League season in the Independence Events Center, where they play their home games.  Their current affiliation is with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.  They have made the playoffs in each of their five seasons under coach Scott Hillman, but have never reached the Ray Miron President's Cup Finals.  Recently, Hillman resigned from his post as coach to take the same job with the Indy Fuel, who will be beginning play this coming season in the ECHL.  The man tabbed to take his place is Richard Matvichuk, who spent most of his NHL playing career with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, winning a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


One of the things that was brought into the NHL after the lockout of 2012 was the compliance buyout option.  Every team had two of those options they could use to clear a major contract (i.e. Rick DiPietro's 15 year deal), but those were the only two they had for last off-season and this off-season.

This week was the beginning of round two of those buyouts, as the Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, and Vancouver Canucks used them, with the San Jose Sharks considering that option.  For the Stars, they used one on Aaron Rome, which means the Stars are clear of the one-year, $4.5 million they were on the hook for Rome.  The Canucks cleared David Booth's contract from the books, effectively meaning that the Canucks have used both of their options (they used one on Keith Ballard last off-season) while the Buffalo Sabres will be clearing three years left on Ville Leino's contract, according to reports.  The Sharks are considering this option for Martin Havlat.

The Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and Toronto Maple Leafs used both their options last off-season, and therefore, cannot use this option this off-season.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Moving Centers?

Now that the NHL season has wrapped up and the Los Angeles Kings have hoisted the Stanley Cup, the work begins for all 30 teams to do it all over again next season.  The NHL Draft is in 10 days and the free-agency period begins July 1.

However, there has been some rumbles about players getting moved, specifically some big name centers.  Joe Thornton, Tomas Plekanec, Ryan Kesler, and Jason Spezza are names getting mentioned in possible trade rumors, and throw in Brad Richards and what the Rangers will decide to do with him, and this offseason will be interesting.  Thornton has a no-movement clause that he can waive while Spezza has a limited no-trade clause, which means he has a list of 10 teams he does not want to be traded to.  Kesler was mentioned in trade rumors prior to the deadline last season, and he may very well still be moved.  Plekanec is a dark horse, as his name hasn't been mentioned as much, but the Canadiens would like to give the younger players more opportunities, which means Plekanec could be expendable.

Monday, June 16, 2014

NHL Mock Draft: Picks 25-30

After a few days delay, here is the final part of my NHL Mock Draft:

25. Boston Bruins: Sonny Milano, LW, US NTDP (USHL)

The Bruins could use a scorer and a winger in their pipeline, and Milano fits the bill for both.  Maturity on the ice is an issue, but he will be spending time in the Boston College system, which will give him time to figure it out, as the Bruins are not in immediate need.

26. Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie Colts (OHL)

The Canadiens still need size up front, and while Lemieux may be a bit of a reach here, he provides size and has a lot of the same qualities that his father Claude did in his playing days.

27. Chicago Blackhawks: Jonathan MacLeod, D, US NTDP (USHL)

The Blackhawks believe in having depth everywhere, and the blue line could use another body or two.  MacLeod will have time to develop at Boston University and by the time he's ready, the Blackhawks' defensive core will be on the downside.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from NY Rangers): Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)

Size is a concern with Fabbri, but if his talents play out the way it is hoped, the Lightning will have a formidable duo in the middle with Steven Stamkos and Fabbri.  Fabbri does have the mental toughness to succeed, and does not back down from bigger competition.

29. Los Angeles Kings: Josh Ho-Sang, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Ho-Sang has the talent to be a top 10 pick, but it is his maturity that drops him in the draft.  He will miss the first seven games of the next OHL season for a hit from behind in the OHL playoffs, and his on-ice play is a mixed bag of brilliance and frustration.  However, the Kings can always use another high-end talent, and they have the leadership in place to possibly rein Ho-Sang in.

30. New Jersey Devils: Connor Bleackley, C, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

The Devils need scoring in the worst way, but the best available have question marks.  Bleackley projects to be more of a two-way forward, but he also has the fewest questions to answer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

WHL Playoff Format Changes

In the same manner that the NHL playoff format changed starting this season, the WHL will be adopting a new playoff format beginning next season.  The format will consist of the top three finishers in each division (U.S., B.C., Central, and East), with each Conference also sending the next two highest finishing teams regardless of division.  The top finishers in each division will take on the wild card teams while the second and third place finishers in a division will square off against one another.  The set-up is very much like what the NHL started doing this past season, right down to the brackets.  In addition, tie-breaker rules for playoffs will be determined as per the WHL regulations and the WHL Finals will go to a 2-3-2 format IF a team from the East Division makes it.

NHL Mock Draft: Picks 19-24

19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Roland McKeown, D, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

The Lightning could use some more depth on the blue line, and they have their pick from Travis Sanheim, Jack Dougherty, and McKeown.  I see McKeown as the safest of the three available and think the Lightning will go with him here.

20. San Jose Sharks: Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

The Sharks' core isn't getting any younger, and while Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are reaching their prime, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are getting further away from it, and now, there are trade rumors surrounding Thornton.  McCann plays a solid two-way game and would be Thornton's replacement if he were to be traded.

21. St. Louis Blues: Jakub Vrana, RW, Linkoping (Sweden)

The Blues need a game breaker, and given the Blues' issues down the stretch, that is an understatement.  Vrana needs time to play with the men in Sweden (he played mostly in the junior league there), but the scoring potential is there, and he puts in the work necessary to succeed.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Alex Tuch, RW, US NTDP (USHL)

The Penguins' search for a winger continues, and who better to help there than a guy that can provide the muscle for either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.  Tuch is a big guy, and once his offense catches up, he could be a steal at this spot.

23. Colorado Avalanche: Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

The Avs have a solid defensive unit, but they could use a top player at that position.  Sanheim rose up the ranks this season, and his potential combined with size give the Avs a potential top pairing guy for the future.

24. Anaheim Ducks: Jack Dougherty, D, US NTDP (USHL)

You can never have too much depth in today's NHL, and the Ducks use their second pick to bolster their defensive pipeline.  Dougherty is primarily an offensive threat that needs work in his own end, but the Ducks will allow him to develop those skills, as they're fairly well stocked on the blue line.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

NHL Mock Draft: Picks 13-18

13. Washington Capitals: Nikita Scherbak, RW, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

The Capitals need top end talent, and Scherbak has the most upside of the players available.  The Caps need scoring other than Alex Ovechkin, and that is something Scherbak does best.

14. Dallas Stars: Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Kuopio (Finland)

The Stars need help down the middle, but Kapanen falling to this spot is just too good to pass up here.  The Stars made the playoffs, and though he could step in right away, the Stars don't have to rush him here.

15. Detroit Red Wings: Julius Honka, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

The Red Wings desperately need a game breaker on the blue line, and Honka has the most potential of this group.  He's not big, but he will have a chance to gain a few pounds and should provide some of the offense that has been missing since Nicklas Lidstrom retired a couple years ago.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Larkin, LW, US NTDP (USHL)

The Blue Jackets go for the player that best fits their identity in Larkin, who will be allowed to develop as he head off to Michigan in the fall.

17. Philadelphia Flyers: Ivan Barbashev, LW, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

The Flyers go with perhaps the most complete player left on the board in Barbashev.  He plays defense about as well as he can score, and that will go over well with the notoriously fickle Flyers fans.

18. Minnesota Wild: David Pastrnak, LW, Sodertalje (Sweden)

The Wild need scoring help on the wings, and assuming that they don't either resign Matt Moulson or go after Thomas Vanek, Pastrnak would be the logical choice here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NHL Mock Draft: Picks 7-12

7. Carolina Hurricanes: Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

The Hurricanes were pushed around too often last year, and while Ritchie hasn't been consistent in his effort, when he's on, he can score and provide much needed toughness that the Hurricanes haven't had in a while.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs: Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

The Maple Leafs were mostly pylons on the blue line, and Morgan Rielly isn't quite ready to carry the mail for the group just yet.  Fleury will at least provide a better moving D-man that other teams won't run circles around, unlike Dion Phaneuf lately.

9. Winnipeg Jets: Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

In my draft, I surprisingly have Dal Colle falling this far, with the Jets stopping his free fall.  The Jets need a consistent scorer, as Evander Kane is their best scorer, and even he is not as consistent as the Jets would have liked.

10. Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa): Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara Icedogs (OHL)

Scoring depth is something that the Ducks can address here, and of the best available, Nikolaj Ehlers is available, but he is also slight of frame.  Perlini can also score, and is a bigger body.  The Ducks won't need to rush him, so there's time for him to eventually be what Teemu Selanne was.

11. Nashville Predators: Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

The Predators need scoring, and despite his frame, Ehlers is that option.  The Predators would have loved to have gotten Perlini at this spot, but Ehlers will be given time to gain a few pounds with another year in junior and the Predators are not short on guys who play with grit.

12. Arizona Coyotes: Kevin Fiala, LW, HV71 (Switzerland)

The Coyotes need scoring badly, and Fiala is the best available at this spot.  He's not big, but he can score, and that's what the Coyotes need.

Monday, June 9, 2014

NHL Mock Draft: Picks 1-6

In less than three weeks, the NHL Draft will take place in Philadelphia, and for NHL teams, this means restocking the shelves with players that could propel them to greatness...if they get it right.  For the players getting drafted, it means being one step closer to the dream of playing in the NHL.  This week, I will take a shot at predicting the picks.  Today is picks one through six.

Note: Positions are based on the Hockey News Draft issue.

1. Florida Panthers: Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice (WHL)

The Panthers need help just about everywhere, and certainly, Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad could have gone here and it would have been the right decision.  Reinhart can score, and he was a leader when Kootenay dealt with the Tim Bozon bacterial meningitis scare late in the season.  The Panthers go with the surest thing here.

2. Buffalo Sabres: Sam Bennett, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Buffalo needs a guy that can score and is willing to get in the dirty areas for goals.  Bennett fits the bill.  Yes, he does need to work on strength (see: a fairly well-publicized pull-up performance at the Combine), but that will come with time and better chances to train.  He will also bring a work ethic that has been missing lately in the Sabres locker room.

3. Edmonton Oilers: Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts (OHL)

The best defenseman in the draft this year, Ekblad can be a cornerstone player for years to come.  The Oilers really need top-tier defensemen...badly.  If Ekblad falls here, the Oilers almost have no choice but to take him here, as he would fill a major need, and be what Chris Pronger was in his lone year in Edmonton in 2006.

4. Calgary Flames: Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Calgary needs size, and I thought about putting Nick Ritchie here, but that would require a trade down, and that may prove to be too much of a gamble for the Flames.  Instead, I have them taking the best player available, and Draisaitl is no small guy, at 6'1" and just a shade over 200 lbs.  He is a dynamic player who scored a lot for an underachieving Prince Albert squad.  His playmaking skills are sure to help the team's prospects such as Johnny Guadreau, Sven Baertschi, and Morgan Klimchuk.

5. New York Islanders: Jake Virtanen, LW, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Ritchie is also a candidate to go here, but I like Virtanen at this spot because he can score goals, and putting him on a line with John Tavares would give the Islanders a great replacement for Matt Moulson, who was traded during the season.  He does have a physical element to his game, which is to be expected for a guy his size.

6. Vancouver Canucks: William Nylander, C, Modo (Sweden

The Canucks could go a number of directions here, as they need to groom a defenseman, with Haydn Fleury being a possibility here, a dynamic scorer, with Michael Dal Colle on the board, and a power forward, with Nick Ritchie on the board.  They also need a center, with the uncertainty of the Ryan Kesler situation hanging overhead.  Nylander is the best available center, and despite his slight frame, he can be an eventual top line center for the Canucks that need to identify their future stars with many of their current stars on the wrong side of 30.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Digging Up Old Memories

When the Swift Current Broncos unveiled their retro third jerseys a few years back, they did so with a tie-in to their look at the time, with black running down the arms in addition to the blue and green color scheme and original logo.  This week, the Broncos went all the way, as they unveiled their new home and away uniforms and logo...and it looks a lot like what they wore when they first started, albeit with a few changes.

The "SC" shoulder patch on the left features the city logo with the wheat sheafs circling around it.  The logo itself, as well as the "Four Broncos" patch on the right shoulder, were given an updated look.  As you can see in the picture above, the home and away jerseys are going back to the blue, green, and white of the early days, and I can say it looks good on them.  The color scheme has always been their identity, whether it has been for good (1989 Memorial Cup champions) or bad (the 1986 bus crash that claimed the lives of four Broncos players, hence the patch on the right shoulder).  It's great to see the Broncos go back to their roots, and their fans couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NHL Draft

With the NHL Draft less than a month away, there are still some things to figure out, such as the Stanley Cup winner and the trophy presentation.  However, there are also 28 other teams that are now attempting to figure out how to shape their futures.  So, for future reference, I will put the draft order for the first round, as well as the first picks for teams who don't have a first round pick.

1. Florida Panthers
2. Buffalo Sabres
3. Edmonton Oilers
4. Calgary Flames
5. New York Islanders
6. Vancouver Canucks
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
9. Winnipeg Jets
10. Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa)
11. Nashville Predators
12. Arizona Coyotes
13. Washington Capitals
14. Dallas Stars
15. Detroit Red Wings
16. Columbus Blue Jackets
17. Philadelphia Flyers
18. Minnesota Wild
19. Tampa Bay Lightning
20. San Jose Sharks
21. St. Louis Blues
22. Pittsburgh Penguins
23. Colorado Avalanche
24. Anaheim Ducks
25. Boston Bruins
26. Montreal Canadiens
27. Chicago Blackhawks
28-29. Los Angeles Kings/Tampa Bay Lightning (from NY Rangers) (order will be determined after Finals)
30. New Jersey Devils

The Rangers lost their first round pick this year in the Martin St. Louis trade when the Rangers made the Conference Finals while the Senators surrendered their pick in the Bobby Ryan trade last off-season.  Both teams have a second round pick.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stanley Cup Finals Predictions

The Stanley Cup Finals are set, and it will pit the two teams from the two largest television markets in America, as the New York Rangers will take on the Los Angeles Kings.  It has been a long journey for both teams, with the Kings playing the maximum of 21 games to get here and the Rangers needing 20 to get to this point.  Goaltending is a major strength for both teams as Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick are perennial Vezina Trophy candidates that have some for of championship in their resumes, with Lundqivst winning a gold medal in 2006 and Quick winning the Stanley Cup in 2012.  Defensively, the teams are fairly even, as the Rangers are a better than the sum of the parts unit that doesn't have a true puck mover.  The Kings have that puck mover in Drew Doughty, but like the Rangers, the unit is largely a cast of players that do better as a unit than individually.  For the talent assembled up front, it's rather surprising that both the Kings and Rangers are inconsistent when it comes to scoring.  Marian Gaborik has come up big for the Kings, and certainly, the likes of Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter will need to step up their game.  A player to watch here is Tyler Toffoli, who scored a lot in junior and the AHL, and figures to be a big part of the team's future.  The Rangers are in a similar situation, with Martin St. Louis playing closer to his 2004 form.  Brad Richards has had a better year after a dismal 2013, but Rick Nash still hasn't played to expectations.  Unlikely sources for goals have emerged for the Rangers, and they will need to do so if they want to walk away with the Stanley Cup.

Prediction: The series will go either six or seven games, and while it isn't wise to count out the Rangers, it also isn't wise to count out the Kings, either.  However, the Kings have been here before, and I think that will be enough of a difference for me to say the Kings will take it in seven.