Rangers and Kings meet in dream Stanley Cup final

Mon Jun 2, 2014 6:55pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) will have the Stanley Cup Finals it dreamed of when the New York Rangers face the Los Angeles Kings in a bone-jarring drama played out in the United States' two biggest media markets.

Not since the New York Yankees took on the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1981 World Series, have Tinsel Town and the Big Apple squared off for a major sporting championship and for the NHL the showdown between the Kings and Rangers is sure to mean unprecedented exposure.

The best-of-seven series which begins on Wednesday in Los Angeles features two battle hardened teams in a compelling final rich in Hollywood type storylines and subplots.

Both Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center will be packed with celebrity A-list hockey fans like soccer great David Beckham and super model Kate Upton but it is the casual hockey fan the NHL will be focused on as the league seizes a chance to pull in new followers.

The Rangers, one of the league's Original Six franchises, can claim some of the NHL's most loyal supporters who have waited two decades for another shot at the cup while the Kings, champions in 2012, return to the finals for the second time three years.

"The past few years, we've tried to earn the respect of the league," said Kings forward Justin Williams. "L.A. is not just a place to come and play a hockey game and work on your tan.

"We want to put L.A. on the map, and put it significantly on the map with regards to hockey."

Certainly there can be no disputing the Rangers and Kings both earned their spots in the finals.   Continued...

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30), right wing Martin St. Louis (26) and the rest of the Rangers pose with the Prince of Whales trophy after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game six of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports