Rangers, Kings go after one prize

"My teammates have been nothing but supportive, with everything," St. Louis said. "You come to a new team, the support I got was great, but then with the situation with my mom, even greater support then. The whole Rangers organization was unbelievable."

St. Louis felt he had to earn the trust of a new room, but it fell to others like Richards to fill the leadership void created by Callahan's departure.

Richards said Tuesday that he made a quiet but conscious decision to make sure he did his part to ensure the leadership core held together.

"To myself, yeah," said Richards. "You kind of had to recognize, 'OK, he's gone.'

"Cally and [head coach Alain Vigneault] did a lot of things with scheduling and stuff. Little things like that, little things around the room. It's not like I didn't know what was going on before ... I still was around long enough to have a pulse of the room.

"When you have a captain, you defer. Now it's more by committee."

As one would expect, both starting netminders -- Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers and Jonathan Quick of the Kings -- drew quite a crowd when they appeared Tuesday afternoon.

Quick took a hard high shot during the Kings' skate earlier but seemed none the worse for wear and proclaimed himself 100 percent healthy.

He better be.

The matchup between two elite puck stoppers stands as one of the dominant storylines heading into the finals, even if Quick has allowed 13 goals in his past three games and has a .906 save percentage through 21 postseason games this spring.

"He's one of the best in the league, but we're kind of the opposites," Lundqvist said.

"He's extremely aggressive. He's like a gymnast out there. He's so quick. He's so powerful. I sit back. I try to stay deep in my net and maybe more in position. In the end, it's about stopping the puck and he does it really well. It's going to be a fun challenge for me and you have to expect going into the playoffs that every team has a great goalie. But 'Quickie' is obviously up there in the tops in the league."

Quick has been here, accomplished much, been a difference-maker on a championship team, while Lundqvist will be appearing in his first Stanley Cup finals.

"I got the question going into the playoffs, do I have anything to prove? I don't feel that way," Lundqvist said. "I see this as a great opportunity for us as a team and me personally to try to win a Cup. I've been in New York for nine years. It's been a dream ever since I came to New York to try to win and bring a Cup to New York. We definitely have the team to do it. Now it comes down to everyone needing to play their absolute best, and that's going to give us a chance to win."

The Kings are in a vastly different place than the Rangers in terms of their recent success. They're also miles removed from where they were as a franchise three years ago when they won their first Cup.

They have moved from rewarding a loyal fan base with a long-awaited championship to making good on a promise to be more than a one-shot wonder.

"It's changed drastically. I don't know if I like it better or not. I for sure don't like it better, actually," admitted defenseman Drew Doughty, who has emerged as a pre-series favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

He admitted the team's profile has increased dramatically.

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