With the NHL Stanley cup finals starting on Wednesday I wanted to take a look at both team and tell you who I think will win.
The kings are the Cinderella team this year. The devil would have been if they weren’t a 6 seed and a perennial playoff team. The kings being an 8 seed were really close to not making the playoffs at all and then went on a magical run to knock off the top 3 seeds in the west. They have done it without a lot of national press because they are in LA which is dominated with the Lakers and the recent sell of the Dodgers and their west coast game times are too late for most east coast hockey fans. They don’t have a lot of huge names. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were on the verge of breaking out in Philly before they got shipped out of town. Their goalie has come up huge for them and has been for the past 2 years but again hasn’t been able to become the poster child for the NHL like Sid Crosby and Ovechkin have.
New Jersey Devils
They always seem to be in the mix every year. Martin Broduer is still a hockey name. a carryover from their years of multiple championships. Guys like Parise have made names for them selves in big games like the Olympics and Kovelchuck made headlines by signing a massive contract a few years ago. They also beat out team like the flyers and the rangers which are big draws in the hockey world. And in their region they don’t have much else going against them. The Nets and Knicks have nothing going for them. The only story was the jets signing the best back up qb available.
Now let’s break it down
The scoring edge.
Both teams have a lot of scoring depth. They can hurt you on the power play or at full strength. The Kings have Richards and carter who are rekindling their chemistry from their flyers days and carter has gotten back on the score sheet as of late. In any other series that would be enough but the Devils have just as much if not more scoring depth. Just as fast as carter has gotten his scoring touch going so has Ilya Kovalchuk. Having him at the top of his game is huge for the devils. He is the most talented scorer left in the playoffs. Then you have the 4th line of the devils which has given them some huge goals in the past series and even if they contribute half of that the devils will be able to win easily,
Between the pipes
Both teams have amazing goalies. Quick has been amazing posting the best numbers for goalies in the playoffs. He’s facing almost 30 shots per game vs Broduer’s 27 shots per game. Quick comes in as a rested goalie having had off an extra few days and playing 4 less games the Broduer in the playoffs. All stats seem to point to the Kings and Quick having the advantage. Until you put one thing there, the name Martin Broduer. He’s been there. He’s won 3 cups already and has been there on the big stage. 4 times in the Stanley cup finals. Olympic medal games. Quick has never been there and the nerves could get to him. If I had to pick one of them to be between the net going into the finals I take Broduer by a slight edge. I worry about fatigue getting to him but I believe he wants a fourth cup more than anything and that will push him past any amount of tiredness, pain or fatigue.
The men behind the bench.
Both coaches have done a lot this year. They have managed their team and gotten the most out of every player they have. I like what Daryl Sutter has done with his team. He’s been around the league and knows big game hockey. They have a good assistant coach in John Stevens who coached the flyers for many years so he knows the Devils well. The Devils come in with Peter Deboer who has drawn a lot out of the devils. He has never really been to this level before. I do like the rest of their coaching staff. Having Larry Robinson and Scott Stevens on their staff adds more big game experience. Voices that can motivate before and during the games. I think the edge goes to the Kings when it comes to the men behind the bench
The experience factor
The kings are lacking when it comes to Stanley cup finals experience. The devils on the other hand have a ton. Broduer, Elias, Zubrus,and Sykora have been there. They have a lot of guys on their roster who are older and may be their last chance at the cup. I give the edge to the devils when it comes to guys knowing what it’s like to be there and maybe be behind the 8 ball in the win column.
The distance traveled.
The Devils were good on the road this year going 24-15-2 and going 4-6 against teams west of Detroit. The kings went 18-13-10 on the road and went 6-9 against teams east of Detroit. The time difference won’t be a huge factor because most of the games will be at night and there will be plenty of time to get used to the difference. The only factor is going east to west where you lose hours effectively keeping you awake longer. That could be tough on the devils. The devils did win the 2 games they played against the Kings one being in a shoot out
The story lines
Every year there networks bring out the compelling story lines in the finals. I think one of the big ones is the former flyers connection with Richards and Carter and Gagne. The other big one will be the possible last year for the big guys like Broduer or maybe Elias. I think the Devils story lines will win out in the media
I think the series will be a good one. I would love to see the Devils win one more. They did a great thing for my uncle this year when his son died of SIDS. They gave them a club box on his birthday and dedicated on of the Zambonis for the rest of the year in his honor. I would love to see Broduer win one more to cement him as one of the best goalies ever with Roy. I would like to see the Kings get close and really bolster the hockey presence in the Bay area.
I’m saying Devils in 6.