Stanley Cup: Devils vs. Kings Breakdown

The Cup Finals have started, with the Kings taking Game 1 in a tremendously exciting overtime battle.  Skilled forward Anze Kopitar corralled a slick pass from Justin Williams at the blue line and went in alone on Martin Brodeur, taking advantage of a new Jersey defensive breakdown for a 2-1 victory.  he froze Brodeur with a head fake and slipped it past the sprawling netminder to extend the Kings remarkable road-winning streak.  they have not lost on the road in the playoffs (9-0).  Game 2 is tonight at the Prudential Center in new Jersey, here is what to look for in the series.

How they Got Here

Devils (6th seed in the East): Won 4-3 in first round against #3 Florida, Won 4-1 in second round against #5 Philadelphia, Won 4-2 in Eastern Finals against #1 new York

Kings (8th seed in the West): Won 4-1 in first round against #1 Vancouver, Swept #2 St. Louis in the second round, Won 4-1 against #3 Phoenix in Western Finals

Goalie Matchup

Devils: Marty Brodeur, one of the best goalies in history, the 40-year-old legend is looking for his 4th cup title.  His unorthodox, sometimes wild style of play and impressive stick-handling skill are what makes him so great.  He’s had a few shaky games in the playoffs and sometimes struggles with low shots at his feet, but he has had a bounce back season on a Devils team that has played less defense compared to recent years because of their improved offense.

Kings: Jonathan Quick, a Vezina trophy finalist this year, Quick is having an unbelievable playoff run as he has propelled the 8th seeded Kings to a surprising Cup berth.  he has a sparkling 13-2 record and hasn’t lost on the road.  3 more wins and he will be remembered as the key reason that Los Angeles gets their first Stanley Cup title.  Look out for his lightning fast side-to-side movement in the crease and the ability to make acrobatic stops.  Quick is a smaller goalie and thus plays a vastly different style than Brodeur; the Devils should look to go high on this guy because he tends to hold his glove low to the ice.

Player to Watch

Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk, he is known for his power play slapshot, he tends to play a defensive position on the power play so he can unleash blasts from the point.  Still, he make selfish plays at times on offense, so the Kings, who have one of the best penalty kills in the league, need to pressure Kovalchuk in to bad decisions and take advantage when a man down.  Kovy is still a scoring threat from all angles and has 18 points in 18 playoff games to lead the team.

Kings: Jeff Carter, he has had flashes of brilliance in the post season with a hat trick against Phoenix (although 2 goals were on 5-on-3 powerplays, one went off his foot, the other was a tap in to an empty net).  Carter plays on a line with former Flyers teammate Mike Richards; they went on a Cup run in 2010 with Philly before falling just short.  the big center is important to the success of the Kings second line, if he is able to find Richards and either Dustin Penner or Dwight King (depending on the line combinations), the Kings will have a strong scoring punch combined with a first line that includes Kopitar, Williams, and captain Dustin Brown.

Keys to Victory

Devils: second chance goals.  because of Quicks style of going across the crease so fast to adjust to shots, he often slides far to one side after making the initial save and can get himself out of position.  the Devils need to get in the dirty areas and let some of their bigger bodies knock home the rebounds.  this won’t be easy as the Kings are a very physical team with big defenseman such as Willie Mitchell and Drew Doughty.  Still, if the Devils heavier role players like Alexei Ponikarovsky and Dainus Zubrus get second whacks at the puck, the Devils will succeed.

Kings: Forecheck.  the Kings were at their best in the Western Finals against the Coyotes when they crashed the boards and imposed their will in the offensive zone.  they have plenty of physical forwards to accomplish this and can effectively retrieve the puck on a dump-in, then cycle it around to find a chance.  they outshot the Devils in Game 1 because of this strong forechecking.  the resulting increase in time of possession is important to the Kings gameplan.

Prediction

Kings in 6, the Devils will find a way to snap the Kings road winning streak with one win at home, but look for Los Angeles to complete an incredible run as the 8th seed.  Jonathan Quick will get Playoff MVP honors and LA will hoist the Cup in Staples Center.

Stanley Cup: Devils vs. Kings Breakdown


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