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Stanley Cup Final Preview

I can assure you that nobody saw the Los Angeles Kings vs The New Jersey Devils for the Stanley Cup coming.

The Kings have been the hottest team in the NHL playoffs and only the second 8 seed in NHL history to make it to the Stanley Cup Final.  Forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have been terrorizing opponents while goalie Jonathan Quick has been an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.  Quick currently has a 1.54 goals against average and a 94.6% save percentage; both numbers are absolutely mind boggling.

On the other hand, the New Jersey Devils have not been as dominant as the Kings, putting in a yeomen-like-effort on the way to the Final.  Zach Parise has been a workhorse and Ilya Kovalchuk has lead the entire league in points during these playoffs.  Of course, we cannot forget about legendary goalie, Martin Brodeur, who, at the age of 40, is playing like he is 23 again.

This series should be a hard fought series, and one which will guarantee an American-born captain will raise the Stanley Cup for only the second time in history.

Forwards: The forwards on the two rosters are very comparable to one another, both teams have superstars, and both teams have grinders that will muck it up in the corners.  The Kings top two lines have been carrying them throughout these NHL playoffs.  Both Captain Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have over 15 points and are both +13.  While Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk has more points than both of them, Kovalchuk has not been nearly as reliable in the defensive zone, and in sports, defense wins championships. The Devils have had four productive and sturdy lines, but unless the Kings top six forwards slow down, the Devils will have some issues at hand.  Advantage: Kings

Defensemen: Defensively, the Kings have defined the word solid and have one of the best young defenseman in the NHL in Drew Doughty.  The only bad thing about Doughty is that he often times is first looking for his shot when passing would be a better option.  The Kings have six sturdy guys on the back end and that is anchored by veterans Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene.  The Devils do not have any superstars in their group like the Kings, but their top six is just as reliable, if not more reliable.  Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky (a trade deadline acquisition) have been steady, and have blocked a combined 48 shots.  Salvador and Zidlicky will need to continue to block shots if they want to slow down the Kings snipers.  As of the moment, I would give the Devils blue line the upper edge  However, the Kings defensemen are plenty rested and ready to try and contain Kovalchuk and Parise. Advantage: Devils

Goalies: Plain and simple, Jonathan Quick is the hottest goalie in the NHL and almost single handedly led them to the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Martin Brodeur has regained his old form, and has made some truly breathtaking saves.

Brodeur’s stats are not as good as Quick’s, but they are still solid; he currently has a 2.04 goals against average and a 92.3%.  Brodeur has three Stanley Cup rings and his experience is invaluable.  Despite that, you simply cannot give the advantage to the Devils against the hotter and better playing goalie in Jonathan Quick. Advantage: Kings.

These two teams are very similar in their make up, strong top six forwards, sturdy blue lines, and star studded goaltending.  The playoffs are always about who has the hot goalie, and that, coupled with the fact that the Kings have yet to lose a game on the road in the playoffs, gives me enough reason to believe that they will claim their first Stanley Cup in their 44 year history. Prediction: Kings in 6. 

Image via Getty

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