Stanley Cup Final Preview

28 05 2012

 

Guest Writer: Andrew Gerberich

This Wednesday marks the beginning of the end of the most difficult journey in all of sports: the road to the Stanley Cup Finals. Players from these two remaining teams are already thinking about nothing more than raising Lord Stanley’s hardware over their heads. Thinking about what they’ll do with it, whether it’s sipping champagne, slurping out spaghetti or throwing it from a balcony into a pool, they can do whatever they please with it. But first, they have to play what will most likely be the most difficult series of their careers. Who would have ever thought at the beginning of the season these two teams would be playing in the Finals? And although these aren’t two higher market teams in the league, it will undoubtedly be an exhilarating series, and I personally prefer this matchup as opposed to a Pittsburgh/Detroit or Chicago/Philadelphia series. But let’s break it down for each team, and then I’ll chime in with my own views on this series…

 

For the Kings to win:

1.) Jonathan Quick must continue to be absolutely mammoth for the Kings if they want to have a shot at winning. He is 12-2 in these playoffs with a 1.54 GAA and a .946 save percentage. Yeah, you read that right. That’s good for first in all three categories. He has put on one of the best performances in recent memory this spring, and he will most assuredly win the Conn Smythe if the Kings come out on top.

2.) Their top guys have to keep finding the back of the net and coming up big. Captain Dustin Brown has had an MVP-esque playoff run with seven goals and nine assists. He and linemates Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams need to keep providing offense. I don’t see offense being much of an issue, though. Defensemen Drew Doughty also has to continue his impressive run. He’s been huge for them; look for him to continue to play 25+ minutes. And Darryl Sutter needs to also make sure and get Doughty and Scuderi out against the Zajac, Parise, Kovalchuk line.

3.) The power play has been atrocious for the Kings at 8.1 percent. This has to change. They have to come out and draw a call early in Game 1 and get themselves off the schneid. If they can’t get the ball rolling on special teams with all of the weapons they have, they’ll become an even more dangerous team.

4.) The Kings have yet to lose on the road at a perfect 8-0. If they can find a way to beat the Devils in their own building, they can start planning the route for their Stanley Cup parade.

5.) The Staples Center has to be rockin’ from puck drop of game three when the Kings get home. The fans can be a huge factor for both of these teams, but we already know the Prudential Center will be struggling to keep the roof from popping off, so Kings fans, I’m calling you out. Match the energy level of the Devils fans for the sake of your team.

 

For the Devils to win:

1.) Come out strong and finish strong. The Devils haven’t had a problem with that first part, outscoring their opponent 23-9 in first periods. But the second part is where they have trouble. They have been outscored 33-28 in the second and third combined. They have to play 60 full minutes. And I would imagine longer than that in a couple of games this series.

2.) Martin Pierre Brodeur has to play like 30-year-old Marty in his prime, which he has looked like at times, especially as the playoffs have progressed. It’ll be fun to see a little Old Bull/Young Bull action with him and Quick. He may be 40, but the Kings better respect him or the Devils will have this series wrapped up pretty quick (no pun intended). This is a guy who has rewritten the record book and is arguably the best goaltender of all-time (I still say Patrick Roy). So, the Kings better recognize.

3.) The key for the Kings’ power play is also the key for the Devils, except that the Devils need to shut it down. They were the best PK in the league during the regular season at 89.6 percent. And although they’ve only killed off 74.2 percent of penalties, they have a real opportunity to keep the Kings off the board and make them become frustrated with themselves at the lack of success on the PP.

4.) Pete DeBoer needs to make sure and roll all four lines. This is probably the biggest advantage the Devils have over the Kings: depth. The fourth line in particular has been phantasmagoric. They have combined for nine goals in the playoffs. If they play like they have all throughout the playoffs, this would give the Devils a fairly sizeable advantage. And of course, as long as the top two lines continue to play well.

5.) The Devils have a plethora of guys that have been X-factors in the postseason, including Adam Henrique, who has two OT game winners, which also happened to be series clinchers. You could put the whole fourth line of the Devils in this category, but I would focus heavily on Ryan Carter, who has already matched his regular season goal total of four. This is a guy who was claimed off waivers earlier in the season, and has played a huge role in the Devils Cup run. Another guy who has surprised a lot of people is Bryce Salvador. A veteran defensemen who had no goals during the regular season has three along with eight assists in the postseason, and has developed into a real shutdown guy. If the Devils can get the same production from these guys that they have received throughout the playoffs, they’ll be successful.

 

In Conclusion:

The depth scoring of the Devils and better balance will ultimately push them over the top and they will be the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Champions. Although the Kings had a magical run, barely squeaking into the playoffs and stomping on the first three seeds in the West, I believe it will end with them going home empty-handed wondering what could have been. The experience and poise of Martin Brodeur will beat out his younger counterpart in Quick, but only time will truly tell. Devils in 6.

Fun Fact: No matter the outcome of this series, an American born captain will raise the Stanley Cup, either Dustin Brown of the Kings or Zach Parise of the Devils. They will be the second to do so in NHL history and first since Dallas Stars captain Derian Hatcher in 1999.

 

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2 responses

1 06 2012
Andrew

I can definitely see it going either way. We’ll see. I still think the Devils are just so deep that they should win it all. Impressive game one win though by the Kings.

30 05 2012
thenewsofsports

Quite the in depth preview. I’m thinking Kings in 6, because they have all the momentum in the world right now.

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