Here it is, New Jersey Devils vs LA Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. Nobody predicted the Devils to make it this far and all I can say is, told you so! Many also didn’t predict the Kings to make it this far and all I can say is, told you so!
I broke down each teams offense, defense, special teams, goaltending and coaches below to give you a better understanding of what we are looking at in these finals.
Also if you’re very superstitious and a betting man I will tell you this. Since 2009, every team to knock out the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, that team has gone onto win the Stanley Cup. 2009 Penguins, 2010 Blackhawks, 2011 Bruins, will it be the 2012 Devils?
The forwards for the LA Kings are well rested, only playing 14 games so far in the 2012 Playoffs. But sometimes this could be a bad thing, players could lose their hot streaks and go on a very long cold streak. And the playoffs is not the place to go on a cold streak.
Devils 1 Kings 0
Comparing both rosters among forwards, the LA Kings have the advantage easily. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards and even Dwight King are scoring. They also have Jeff Carter who once heated up, can go on a very long hot streak.
The Devils have Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. Will Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta or Adam Henrique chip in on the scoring board? Who knows how these players will handle the pressure.
Devils 1 Kings 1
With the aggressive forechecking from each team this will be a very exciting Stanley Cup to watch. When comparing the forecheck game, I give the advantage to the Kings, just because they are bigger. When you have guys that are 6′ 3″ and 6′ 4″ forechecking they should be more effective than teams with smaller forwards, like the Devils.
Although I’m a big believer in size does NOT matter, in this case after watching both teams make it to the Finals, the Kings seem to have the advantage size wise. But who knows, the Devils could step up their forechecking and prove my theory that size does not matter.
Devils 1 Kings 1…still
Both teams have solid defenses, and although I tried warning everyone about the Devils defense, everyone continued to over look their defense. The only difference is that the LA Kings have Drew Doughty who can run the power play, the Devils do not have that kind of defensemen. They use Ilya Kovalchuk on the point, which in my opinion has a better slap shot than Doughty but has a hard time defending if he gets caught pinching too low.
Devils 1 Kings 2
Comparing both teams defense vs their opponents to the Stanley Cup, the Devils have played the more physical teams. The Devils had to get through the surging Panthers, a young and fast Flyers team then the big mighty Rangers.
The Kings had to get through a very overrated Canucks team, a weak Blues team who had no confidence in that series and a Coyotes team who seamed to run out of gas.
Devils 2 Kings 2
Honestly neither team has made the power play the reason for winning games. As a matter of fact, each team is disciplined in the penalty taking department. But if I had to choose who has the advantage, it goes to the Devils.
The Kings, especially Drew Doughty looked very frustrated vs the Coyotes in game 5. If that happens against the Devils, it could cause a big problem for the Kings, may even cost them a game, which almost did happen against the Coyotes.
Devils 3 Kings 2
This is the one department that in my opinion will determine who lifts the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Jonathan Quick is the sole reason on why the Kings are in the Finals. As for the Devils, Martin Brodeur is not the sole reason. The good news for the Devils though is that Quick looked human against the Coyotes series.
Of the teams Quick has faced in these playoffs the Devils should give him the biggest test. Kovalchuk leads the 2012 playoffs in points, one goal away from leading in goals (Briere and Giroux are ahead of him, they are no longer in the playoffs), Kovalchuk also leads in assists.
But if you’re a Kings fan don’t let that scare you because, Jonathan Quick leads the playoffs in GA and SV% and of course tied with Brodeur in wins.
Earlier when I said that Brodeur isn’t the sole reason the Devils are in the finals, well I said that because Brodeur has a .923 SV%. Jonathan Quick has a .946 SV%
Devils 3 Kings 3
This time last year both Peter DeBoer and Darryl Sutter were jobless, in the NHL. Now they are both in the Stanley Cup Finals and for good reasons.
Sutter has seen the Stanley Cup finals before and Deboer has coached a Memorial Cup where current Kings forward Mike Richards has played and won with DeBoer.
I don’t think coaching will make that big of a difference in these Finals but I will say this, DeBoer knows how to shut down Mike Richards. He did it to Richards when Richards was on the Flyers. At the time DeBoer coached the Panthers and every time Richards played against him, Peter made sure he shut him down.
Devils 4 Kings 3
As you can see, this is a pretty even matchup, but I do have the Devils with the advantage. Although it’s only because of the coaching, and since the Kings have a lot of big players who can help win they will need Mike Richards to be just as effective. And aslong as DeBoer is behind the bench on the opposite side of Richards, Richards won’t be that effective.
I can say this though, success seems to follow Mike Richards, even Peter DeBoer admitted that in a press conference.
In order for the Devils to win the Stanley Cup, Martin Brodeur will have to steal the series. The Devils have pretty much carried him thus far, it’s time for him to out play Quick and lead his team to a victory. And when I say steal the series, he will have to hand the Kings their FIRST road loss in these 2012 playoffs. If he can do that, the Devils will win the Stanley Cup.
In order for the Kings to win the Stanley Cup, the Kings will have to make sure they keep their cool by staying out of the penalty box and throw as many pucks at Brodeur as possible. Of course Quick will have to find a way to out play the NHL Veteran Brodeur.
Like I have always said, Stanley Cup winners come down to which goalie is playing better or will play better. Jonathan Quick is an outstanding goalie, but Martin Brodeur has the experience and does not seem to be slowing down even at the age of 40.
I know I gave the goalie advantage to the Kings, but that was off of stats which really don’t mean a thing in the NHL playoffs. If stats meant everything, then the New York Rangers would be in the Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, and they are not.
It’s not going to be an easy series for the Devils but they should keep the games close and close out games within the final minute of games as they have done since the playoffs started.
New Jersey Devils to win the series in 6 games.
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