So tonight kicks off the epic conclusion of what has been an insanely entertaining playoffs. Admittedly, my desire to blog every game after my team was eliminated early (by the fuckin Rangers) went out the window pretty quickly, but it would be irresponsible to not address this series because this really has been one of the better playoffs I remember in a while.
In the West, you had goals upon goals upon goals. Just supreme skill every night on display, giving us some of the most consistently exciting hockey we've ever seen. In the East, the exact opposite. A study in just how crucial a good goaltender can be as King Henrik led his squad to the final despite a spotty offense that has a tendency to go quiet for long stretches.
And tonight, we get to start the journey to find which style will prevail: the onslaught of offense of the Kings, or the quick punch, shutdown style of the Henrik's... I mean the Rangers. So without further ado, let's look at the odds.
Game 1 Odds - Kings (-155)
Well Vegas is saying Kings, and with home ice and coming off of a huge win in game 7 over a very tough Chicago squad, you'd have to think their confidence is high. But that was a grueling series: 7 games, a few overtimes, more goals than I can count between the two teams, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if they come out a bit drained and sluggish to start out this series.
Plus, Henrik Lundqvist terrifies me. He's just such an X factor in any game he's in. They say goalie is the most important position in sports, and while that's literally absurd to think, it's safe to say it's the most impactful position in hockey. Hank has won them the last two series. Simple as that. If the Rangers role players (cus lord knows any of their "stars" not named St. Louis have a tendency to disappear in big games) can sneak one in early and give Hank a lead, then it doesn't matter who's ice they're playing on, he can close it down from there.
So, while I'm taking the Kings overall in this series (which I'll get to in a second), I think this is a steal game for the Rangers. Plus, if you do take them at +135 tonight, you stand to make a pretty penny, which is always the more fun bet to make. I just have the feeling that Hank is gonna be on lock down mode and that the Kings are going to still be shaking the Hawks, so game 1 goes to the Rangers. 2-1 final score.
Pick - Rangers (+135)
Overall Series Odds - Kings (-160)
I had even heard -170 at one point, which is pretty lopsidedly favoring the Kings. That being said, I feel like people are just enthralled with the scoring and skill in the West and overlooking the griminess of the East. East Hockey is gritty and ugly to watch, but if you have the guys to get it done, it's very difficult to beat. And that's really what has to happen here if the Kings want to win, they have to go out and beat the Rangers because the Rangers won't lose. You can beat em, but they won't lose on their own.
At the end of the day, I'm taking the Kings. I think they have the ability to go out there and win this series, but I don't think it's a given and I definitely expect a long series full of every type of game you could imagine seeing. It's gonna be awesome, go Kings.
Pick: Kings (-160)