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On Hockey | Stanley Cup Final

Kings vs. Rangers: Who has the edge?

A look at the key elements in the Stanley Cup Final between the Kings and Rangers:

Chris Szagola/AP

Game changers

  • Rangers: Rick Nash is a puck-possession monster. He’s a power forward who likes to have the puck on his stick to create chances for himself and his teammates. The ex-Columbus captain is a blend of strength and skill. He’s good enough to dangle around defensemen who give him too much space. He can overpower smaller opponents by using his size and strength.

  • Kings: Marian Gaborik, a former Blue Jacket like Nash, was a deadline acquisition for the Kings. He has delivered on every front. The ex-Ranger pushes back defensemen with his straight-line speed. For a skilled player, he’s not afraid to get dirty in the danger areas. There are few players who can rival his hand-eye coordination. Batting in mid-air pucks is Gaborik’s specialty.

  • Advantage: Kings.


Jae C. Hong/AP

Goalies

  • Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist’s only blip was a Game 5 dud against the Canadiens. Coach Alain Vigneault pulled Lundqvist and replaced him with backup Cam Talbot. But Lundqvist roared back in Game 6 to blank the Canadiens and backstop the Rangers into the Final. Lundqvist makes the saves he should and often stops the pucks he shouldn’t. This is the best goalie the Kings will have faced.

  • Kings: Jonathan Quick has a résumé full of jaw-dropping saves. He made some of them in the first three rounds against the Western teams. But the former UMass netminder also let in some shots that he stopped during the Kings’ Cup run in 2012. Quick hasn’t been as dependable as in previous seasons.

  • Advantage: Rangers.

Harry How/Getty Images

Shutdown defensemen

  • Rangers: Dan Girardi is the definition of a stay-at-home defenseman. The right-shot Girardi isn’t fancy. But he’s good in the corners and in front of the net. He likes to lean on forwards and use his size to gain possession of the puck. Girardi and partner Ryan McDonagh will see plenty of shifts against LA’s top line of Gaborik, Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown.

  • Kings: Drew Doughty makes his defensive money by going the other way. Doughty is one of the league’s best all-around defensemen. Defensively, he’s good with his stick and positioning. He’ll throw big hits when necessary, but that’s not his game. Doughty retrieves pucks swiftly and initiates the transition game the other way. His best defense is a good offense.

  • Advantage: Kings.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY

Coaches

  • Rangers: Ex-Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn’t have things go his way in 2011. He is determined to change his fate this time. Like his good friend Claude Julien, Vigneault loves to roll four lines and keep the heat on his opponents. Vigneault has the game’s best third line in Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard, and Mats Zuccarello. He leans on his top players, but doesn’t ride them as hard as John Tortorella did during his time in Manhattan.

  • Kings: Darryl Sutter has installed a rigid system based on structure all around. The Kings execute their game plan perfectly. The top duo of Doughty and Jake Muzzin get the puck going offensively. Their forwards smother opponents with size and smarts. Sutter has one of the game’s top two-way centers in Anze Kopitar, whom he’ll deploy in all situations.

  • Advantage: Kings.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Villains

  • Rangers: Derek Dorsett, one of the handful of former Blue Jackets on the New York roster, will hit everything that moves. The fourth-line scrapper barrels in on the forecheck and likes to put defensemen through the glass. Dorsett doesn’t play much compared with his top-nine teammates. But he makes his shifts count.

  • Kings: Dustin Brown is one of the heaviest hitters in the league. The LA captain connects hard on every thump. He has been known to go low and take out knees, too. He’s at his best when he’s engaged and playing physically.

  • Advantage: Kings.

Prediction

  • Rangers in seven.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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