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Rangers know 'hands are full' vs. powerful Kings

The SportsXchange

Despite a relatively even workload to this point in the playoff season, the Los Angeles Kings faced a much rockier road than the New York Rangers to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

By getting through the Western Conference gauntlet, the Kings are the favorite heading into the title series that begins Wednesday in Los Angeles.

"I think that perception is out there," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "The experts probably favor the L.A. Kings quite a bit. That's not going to change our approach, what we think we need to do."

The Kings played the maximum number of games to get to the finals, beating the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks in decisive Game 7s on the road.

While the Rangers don't have quite as much tread on their tires, they aren't far behind, beating the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in the first two rounds before topping the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the Eastern Conference finals.

"Great thing about the playoffs is you watch the other games, and all our players had an opportunity to watch the Kings throughout these playoffs -- their comeback against San Jose, their tough series against Anaheim, and obviously the last one against the Stanley Cup champions," Vigneault said. "Our players got a real good idea of what's coming up here as far as the challenge.

"We know they have balance on their four lines. (Kings defenseman Drew) Doughty is probably one, if not the best defenseman in the NHL, and they've got one of the best goaltenders (in Jonathan Quick). We got our hands full, and we're ready for it."

One advantage the Rangers have is they have been sitting since Thursday while the Kings and Blackhawks battled it out in an epic series that finished with an overtime victory by Los Angeles on Sunday. For the first time in a while, the Rangers should be the fresher team.

"Even though it's the Stanley Cup final, Game 1 (Wednesday), we've been able to (get up for games) pretty consistently, not just this season, but the past couple seasons," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "I mean, you're doing it a lot on the road, a lot with travel.

"If you look at this year, the time between series was not very much. You had to get going again. We went into Chicago and played really well in Game 1. Sort of the same thing. There wasn't much break to it. Just reset and away you go again."

NOTES: Rangers LW Daniel Carcillo is eligible to play in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals after his 10-game suspension for striking an official was reduced to six games upon appeal. The NHL Players' Association asked the league to review his suspension, which he received for abusing linesman Scott Driscoll, a violation of Rule 40.3, during the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The case was heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. ... The Kings are the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s on the road in one playoff year to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. ... Kings G Jonathan Quick was banged up in practice Tuesday when he was struck in the collarbone with a shot. According to coach Darryl Sutter, Quick will be in the net Wednesday for Game 1. Sutter indicated that he is not concerned about Quick's status, adding, "Jonathan is a tough guy. He's probably the first guy out of the room."

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