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Studs and Duds of the Stanley Cup Final

by Photo of Gil Santos

Justin Williams led the way for the studs while Dan Girardi was a major dud in the Cup Final.

Studs and Duds of  the Stanley Cup Final

The Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup champions after they defeated the New York Rangers, 3-2, in a double overtime thriller. It was fitting ending to what was one of the best Stanley Cup Playoffs in recent memory. Like they have all postseason, the comeback Kings had to rally back to win the game. Alec Martinez played hero again like he did in the Western Conference Final, putting home a rebound for the series winner at 14:43 into the second OT. 

While it was not as dominating as their Cup run in 2012, this Kings' run was as impressive. Nearly two months ago, they were in danger of being swept by the San Jose Sharks in the first round. Now they are Stanley Cup champions. The amount of determination and mental fortitude this team has is remarkable. 

Although this year's Stanley Cup Final was brief, it was a lot of fun to watch. Four out of the five games were one-goal contests and three of them were decided in overtime. 

The Rangers played a great series and at times looked like the better team on the ice. But, they just couldn't finish the Kings off when they had the chance, especially in the first two games. The Kings didn't let anything phase them when they faced adversity while the Rangers were easily frustrated by bad luck and poor calls from the referees. The Blue Shirts will hopefully learn from this heartbreaking loss and use that experience to make another run in the near future. Their core is relatively young, so they have a great shot at getting back to the Cup Final in the next couple of years.  

To put the cherry on top on our coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs, here are the overall studs and duds of the Cup Final:

Studs

1. Justin Williams, Kings - The Conn Smythe winner led the way in points in the Stanley Cup Final with seven. Williams was also second on the Kings in points as he collected 25 points for the postseason. He just knows how to score big goals in the most pressurized situations. He scored the game-winner in Game 1 and tallied the first goal in Game 5. He is the perfect complementary third line forward and always comes alive when the lights are the brightest.  

2. Jeff Carter, Kings - Carter was the face of the best line in the playoffs (That 70's line) and was the most consistent forward for the Kings in the Cup Final. The Rangers had no answer for Carter as he had too much size and speed for them to handle. Carter was great on both ends of the ice and averaged about four shots a game. Every time he was on the ice, he was a threat to score. 

3. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers - McDonagh capped off an outstanding season and postseason with a superb performance in the Cup Final. He led the Blue Shirts in points for both the Final and postseason. Also, I thought he played as well as the Kings' Drew Doughty. McDonagh has established himself as a top 10 defenseman in the NHL and should be in the Norris Trophy conversation for years to come. 

4. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers - There should be very little blame put on Lundqvist for the Rangers' failure to win the Stanley Cup. The Rangers just asked too much from their start netminder. They needed him to be extraordinary to win the series and he wasn't. He was still very good though as he recorded  a .923 save percentage while being peppered for 38.8 shots per game.  You can't fault him for not being able to stand on his head every game, especially against a great team like the Kings. 

Duds

1. Dan Girardi, Rangers - It was just an awful series for the top pair defenseman. Girardi looked slow and turned the puck over way too much in the defensive zone. Glen Sather may be regretting the 6-year, $33 million dollar contract he gave him earlier this season.

2. Rick Nash, Rangers - Zero points in the Stanley Cup Final is just unacceptable, especially when you're regarded as the Rangers' best forward. He will probably be the main person that Rangers' fans will blame and it's well-deserved. He has to better.

3. Brad Richards - Richards likely won't be a Ranger next year as everyone expects the Blue Shirts to use their final compliance buyout on the forward. The veteran had a nice bounce-back regular season and looked good early in the post-season, but as the playoffs wore on, his production came crashing down. Richards earned just one point in the Stanley Cup Final and was one of the main reasons the Blue Shirts' power play wasn't very good.

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