Los Angeles Hockey: New York Rangers

Vet Regehr gets his Cup-winning memory

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

LOS ANGELES -- It was eating at Darryl Sutter.

He went back and forth in his mind in the 24 hours leading up to Game 5, but in the end the Los Angeles Kings coach had to tell Robyn Regehr again that Regehr wouldn't be playing despite having gotten a clean bill of health earlier in the series.

"He'd been out so long, that's your biggest concern," said Sutter. "Quite honestly, I thought about it again this morning, about how much trust you have in everybody."

Regehr was injured May 3 at Anaheim in Game 1 of that second-round series. He got clearance to play after Game 1 of the Cup finals, but Sutter just didn't want to mess with a winning lineup, not to mention throw a player back in at this stage who hadn’t played in a month. One can see his thinking there. But it wasn't easy on the coach.

Add in the fact Sutter coached Regehr in Calgary when the Flames lost a heartbreaking 2004 Stanley Cup finals in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and you know how much the Kings coach wanted this for Regehr, who had never won a Cup before.

But perhaps the perfect moment finally came when Kings captain Dustin Brown made Regehr the first player he would hand the Cup to Thursday night.

What a moment.

"By Brownie doing that, it tells you how they feel about each other," Sutter said of his close-knit team.

Regehr, 34, was thrilled when Brown looked to him with the Cup handoff.

"It was amazing," said Regehr. "I had a little bit of an idea. Matt [Greene] and some of the other veteran guys were talking about it before, and [maybe they] just said [to Brown], ‘If you wanted to give it to Marian first,’ but I guess they thought I was older than him, so I have a little more seniority. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s taken me 15 years. I got within a goal about 10 years ago. Just to get back here again was just awesome.

"I'm just excited about the winning," said Regehr, who played in eight postseason games because of the injury and did not play at all in the final two rounds. Not that any of that dulled Regehr’s moment with the world’s most recognizable trophy. "I didn't really know how it would feel,” he said. "I had a hard time tying my skates, I was so excited to come out here."

Regehr approved a trade to Los Angeles from the Buffalo Sabres two years ago just for this reason: to have a chance to win his first Cup.

"It's a huge part of it because that's what it's all about," said Regehr. "It’s about being involved with a championship-winning team. Now I can check that box. Talking to the guys that had done it before -- it’s something they’ll remember and cherish forever. Now I’ll have the feelings and memories forever."

Rangers pretty good at staying alive

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
Not in Our House! The Rangers have won seven straight home games when facing elimination and will need another one Wednesday night. According to Elias, that seven-game home streak is tied for an NHL record. The only other teams to win seven straight home games in that scenario were the Red Wings (twice, from 1934-40 and 1949-55) and Canadiens (1941-50).

Kings aiming to end the sweep drought

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
Sweep Drought to End? Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Kings could end the longest sweep drought (14 years) in a championship round in major pro sports history. The last Stanley Cup finals sweep came in 1998 by the Detroit Red Wings over the Washington Capitals. The next longest such drought is 12 years (MLB from 1977-88, and NBA from 1947-58).
We're down to the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers. So who will win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP? Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun weigh in while connecting for cross-country flights. Go!

BURNSIDE: Good day, my friend. I'm awaiting a flight westward in Chicago, and I must admit this whole Western Conference beauty remains a bit of a blur. Still can’t believe the Chicago Blackhawks couldn't close the deal after leading Game 7 by 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 counts, but that’s a credit to a Kings team that simply wouldn’t stay down on the mat. Not that they didn’t have their down moments against the defending Stanley Cup champs, blowing a 3-1 series lead with two straight losses that included blown third-period leads of their own. But here they are in the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years, and they will have home-ice advantage against the surprising Rangers. I know you covered the Eastern Conference finals, and I know from your preview that you like the Kings’ chances at winning their second Cup over that same three-year period. But I don't think it's going to be as easy as some people think. The Kings left a lot on the table against Chicago. A lot. Dustin Brown called it the most emotional playoff series in which he has ever participated. Which leads us to the topic for our little tête-à-tête today, which is: Who is shaping up to be a legitimate Conn Smythe Trophy candidate? Let’s start with the favored Kings. I’ll toss out Jeff Carter’s name. He scored his ninth goal of the playoffs in Game 7 and led all players in the West finals with 11 points. He has been a force and a major factor in the surprising contributions of kids Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

LEBRUN: I’m catching a flight from Toronto to LAX later today, my friend. See you soon! Yes, as you saw in my Cup finals preview, although I do like the Kings to win the Cup, I suggested the Rangers will push them to seven games. Despite the superiority gap the West has over the East in general, the fact that the Kings had to work so hard to finish off the Blackhawks gives the Rangers an edge, due to L.A.'s fatigue level entering this series. Not to mention, Henrik Lundqvist over an inconsistent Jonathan Quick is another factor. So I do not think it’s going to be easy, by any measure. The taxing reality of having to beat the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago over 21 grueling games has really tested what I think the Kings have left. As for the Conn Smythe, although I agree Carter has been terrific, I think it goes without saying that if we held the vote today, Drew Doughty would win in a landslide. The dude is simply the best defenseman in the NHL. He leads all Kings and Rangers in ice time in these playoffs at 27:50 a game. Offense, defense, special teams, leadership, physicality -- Doughty does it all. And let’s not forget the Conn Smythe is for the entire playoffs. I agree Carter was sensational in the Western finals, but Doughty has been out of this world since Day 1 in mid-April.

BURNSIDE: I agree with you on Doughty. He’s at the emotional core of the Kings, and in fact it was interesting to hear Brown, the Kings’ captain, talk about the need for his teammates to sometimes calm Doughty down and keep him focused the right way. "I guess the way to kind of explain it [is] Dewy gets pretty emotional out there, and sometimes it takes one or two guys to go over there and calm him down. Then, he’s great. He gets very emotional, which I love, but sometimes he lets it get the best of him. Once somebody calms him down, then he takes over the game. He can use that emotion the right way." Doughty leads all defensemen with 16 points and has logged more ice time in the playoffs than any other player -- by a country mile. If he keeps up his current level of play, he’s going to make everyone in the Eastern Conference forget about Montreal’s great P.K. Subban, and if that’s the case, he’ll make a compelling case for a playoff MVP award. But what about the Kings’ calming presence in the locker room and on the ice, Anze Kopitar? He leads all playoff performers with 24 points and has registered at least a point in 17 of 21 games. Amazing. He played head-to-head with Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews all series long, and I’m guessing he’ll see a lot of the Rangers’ top line in the finals as well. Definitely a worthy candidate.

LEBRUN: No question in my mind that Kopitar would be my next choice after Doughty. The Selke Trophy finalist has gone head-to-head with the likes of Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf and Toews in these playoffs and more than held his own, in some cases winning outright those key battles. No offense to the Rangers, but if Kopitar is matched up with Derek Stepan, that’s a bit of a step down from the previous centers he saw in these playoffs. Certainly, to me, it’s a 1-2 race of Doughty and Kopitar for Conn Smythe, and I agree Carter is a solid No. 3. What about the Rangers? As stated above, the Blueshirts have a better shot than we would have thought a week ago because of the Kings’ marathon Western finals. And if the Rangers do win the Cup, it’s because of Lundqvist. Although I suspect stud blueliner Ryan McDonagh also would garner some Conn Smythe traction if the Rangers win the Cup -- he’s been out of this world all postseason -- I still think that if New York pulls off the upset, it’s because King Henrik stumped the Kings. That, combined with his stellar play for most of the postseason, would get him a no-brainer Conn Smythe.

BURNSIDE: The discussion is pretty heavily weighted toward the Kings, and I think there’s ample reason for that. But, like you, I think this has the potential to be a long series, given the Kings’ heavy workload thus far and the extra rest the Rangers enjoyed after dispatching the Habs in six games. Everyone will point to Lundqvist as the Rangers’ prime Conn Smythe candidate, and it’s hard to argue with that. Except for a slight wobble in Game 5, he’s been pretty terrific since the Rangers fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the second round. If the Rangers push this to seven games, I could see a scenario in which Lundqvist earns MVP honors even if the Rangers can’t complete the dream run to a Cup championship. That said, the only other player I think has a chance to enter the discussion for the Rangers is Martin St. Louis. There’s the emotional aspect of what St. Louis has been through: losing his mother in the midst of the Pittsburgh series and continuing to play -- and play exceptionally well. And as the playoffs have gone on, he has become better and better. His overtime winner against the Habs in Game 4 was a series changer, as it gave the Rangers a 3-1 series lead that forced the Habs into full catch-up mode. You know he has the will and the skill to do more damage in the finals, and if the Rangers happen to effect the upset, I'm guessing St. Louis will have a hand in it and thus play a big role come voting time for the MVP honors.

LEBRUN: The emotion that has wrapped this Rangers team ever since Martin St. Louis’ mother passed away unexpectedly on May 8 has been incredible. The players have rallied around St. Louis, and he has responded through adversity by playing his best hockey of the season. It’s why there’s a sense of destiny around this team, even if they are the underdogs. I still think, though, that if the Rangers upset the Kings, that win nets Lundqvist the Conn Smythe.

Well, my friend, before the day is over, we’ll be drinking diet soda together. Safe travels. Hoping this is a terrific Cup finals.

W2W4: Key stats for Game 7s

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
Game 7 Bonanza: The NHL features three Game 7s Wednesday night and the Flyers-Rangers start things off at 7 ET. Something has to give. The Rangers have never lost a Game 7 at home (5-0), but the Flyers own the best Game 7 record (9-6) of any team in NHL history (min. 10 games played).

Stanley Cup Playoffs – Game 7s
Flyers at Rangers, 7 ET

* This is the 2nd time the Flyers and Rangers have played a Game 7 against each other. In the 1974 Semifinals, the Flyers beat the Rangers, 4-3.
* Teams have alternated wins and losses throughout series (last game was won by Flyers).
* Flyers: best record in Game 7s (9-6) of any team with at least 10 games played.
* Flyers: 9-6 in Game 7s (3-3 on road)
* Flyers: won each of their last 2 series vs Eastern Conference teams when trailing 3-2
* Rangers: looking for first playoff series win vs Flyers since 1986 Patrick Division Semifinal (have lost last 3 series vs Flyers)
* Rangers: won 6 of their last 7 Game 7s (including their last 3), after losing their first 4 Game 7s
* Rangers: 6-5 all-time in Game 7s (5-0 at home)

Wild at Avalanche, 9:30 ET
* There have been 25 teams to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in NHL playoff history.
* Home team has won every game this series
* Wild: defeated Avalanche in Game 7 of 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals
* Wild: 2-0 all-time in Game 7s (both on road)
* Avalanche: 6-6 all-time in Game 7s (4-2 in Game 7s at home)

Kings at Sharks, 10 ET
* Kings: 9th team to force Game 7 when trailing 3-0
* Sharks: 2nd time being pushed to Game 7 after taking 3-0 series lead (2011 vs Red Wings ... SJ won Game 7)
* Only 3 NHL teams have won a series when trailing 3-0 (1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 Islanders, 2010 Flyers)
* Each team has scored 21 goals this series
* Kings: eliminated Sharks in Game 7 of Western Conference semifinals last year
* Kings: 4-4 in Game 7s (2-3 on road)
* Sharks: 5-3 in Game 7s (2-0 at home)

Forced Game 7 After Trailing Series 3-0
Stanley Cup Playoff History
2014 Kings Sharks
2011 Red Wings Sharks
2011 Blackhawks Canucks
2010 Flyers << Bruins
1975 Islanders Flyers
1975 Islanders << Penguins
1945 Red Wings Maple Leafs
1942 Maple Leafs << Red Wings
1939 Rangers Bruins
>> Won game