The rise of the New York Rangers
Advanced stats show keys to Blueshirts' run. But can they beat the Kings?
It is rare that there is a consensus pick entering the Stanley Cup finals.
You might have to go back as far as the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 or 1998 to find a matchup the entire hockey world thought would come out lopsided; those contests were lopsided, with eight games total between the two series in Detroit's sweeps.
The rarity of the consensus pick is thanks in part to the fact that the matchups in the salary-cap era are almost always close. There has not been a sweep since the 2005 lockout, and only one series was decided in five games (Anaheim Ducks over Ottawa Senators in 2007).
This year's playoffs have stayed in tow, featuring six Game 7s, four matchups that went six games and only one sweep.
Moreover, what is it about this Rangers team in the postseason that has made it that much more competitive than in the regular season? And does New York have a shot to pull off the upset?
The good bounces
The road to the Stanley Cup finals always includes a little bit of luck.
The Kings benefited from an injury to irreplaceable San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a goaltending merry-go-round for the Anaheim Ducks and a fortuitous bounce off an Alec Martinez shot in Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Rangers, however, seemed to have come across an even more unlikely set of favorable circumstances.
To read the full breakdown of how the Rangers have improved -- and whether they can pull the upset over the Kings -- you must be an ESPN Insider.