Picks And Predictions: Stanley Cup Finals
By Stephen London
Because the last playoff series will get under way tonight, this will be the last post picking winners. Let's get started.
Los Angeles Kings at New Jersey Devils -- 8 p.m.
Both the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings were underdogs when the playoffs began. With the Devils ranked fourth in their division at the end of the season, no one really expected them to make a push, especially against two of their divisional rivals (Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers). The Kings had a regular-season away record of 18-13-10, yet their road record during the playoffs is a staggering 8-0.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter has prepared his team well for road games this postseason. But Devils coach Peter Deboer has also gotten his team to elevate its play during crucial games, going 6-2 at home this postseason.
One of the keys to Game 1 is the battle between the two goaltenders. The Kings will likely emphasize strong defense and forechecks to create odd-man rushes. For the Devils, the keys to winning Game 1 at home is to not let the Kings score early and to consistently test Kings All-Star goaltender Jon Quick.
If the Kings score early, they might take Devils fans out of the game. To beat Quick, the Devils will have to attack his vulnerable spots. He often gets low when the puck goes to the defensemen at the points, and the Devils will have to capitalize on their opportunities to take high shots from the points.
Both teams need to keep men out of the penalty box. Although the Kings have not had great success on the power play (8.1 percent), the Devils still should take into account all of the talent the Kings have to put on the power play.
Getting a clear shot on net will come at a premium, because of all the diving bodies that will be in the way. The Kings have the advantage in almost every department, except Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has won multiple Stanley Cups and Quick has not. But it will take the Devils a lot more than just Brodeur to win this series.
Pick: 2U on the Kings for the series -160 ... risking 3.2U
Pick: 1U on under 5 goals -115 ... risking 1.15U
Kings Players To Watch: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards
Devils Players To Watch: Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Dainius Zubrus, Adam Henrique
Posted May 30, 2012