Rangers-Kings Will Be the First-Ever N.Y. vs. L.A. Stanley Cup Final

The two biggest markets haven’t battled for a sports championship, period, in 33 years.

Last night’s overtime clincher by Kings defenseman Alec Martinez in the Game 7 thriller against the Blackhawks not only capped off an extraordinary 21-game Western Conference playoff run by L.A. (remember when they were down three games to zero against the San Jose Sharks in Round 1?), but also set up the first championship series between the nation’s two largest markets since the 1981 World Series, when Pedro Guerrero and Steve Garvey led the L.A. Dodgers over Reggie Jackson, Sweet Lou Piniella, and the Yankees in six games. (Ironically, 1981 was the last time the Rangers and the Kings met in the playoffs, with New York winning a chippy Round 1 best-of-five series, 3-1, back when the NHL alignment allowed for such a matchup.)

This is only the eighth N.Y.-L.A. championship matchup in major sports, and the first involving either the NFL or the NHL. So how do the two cities stack up in the rivalry? New York holds a 4-3 advantage:

L.A. Dodgers defeat N.Y. Yankees, 4-2 (1981)

N.Y. Yankees defeat L.A. Dodgers 4-2 (1978)

N.Y. Yankees defeat L.A. Dodgers 4-2 (1977)

L.A. Dodgers defeat N.Y. Yankees 4-0 (1963)

N.Y. Knicks defeat L.A. Lakers, 4-1 (1973)

L.A. Lakers defeat N.Y. Knicks 4-1 (1972)

N.Y. Knicks defeat L.A. Lakers 4-3 (1970)

In a series that should be a ratings boon for NBC and the NHL, we’ll see if Los Angeles can square up the all-time series or if New York can extend their lead. More to the point, it should be an epic battle for the Cup between two teams that have absolutely refused to lose in these remarkable playoffs. Series starts at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday. 

Photos by Kostas Lymperopoulos / CSM / Landov