As we all now know, this year’s NHL Stanley Cup final will see the the New Jersey Devils play the Los Angeles Kings face-off beginning on Wednesday, May 30th. At the start of the year, you would be hard pressed to find someone who thought that this would be this year’s final two teams but here we are today about to watch a no doubt exciting playoff battle.
For the first time since they had Wayne Greztky in 1993, the Los Angeles Kings are back in the playoffs. Even the celebrities are taking notice as Justin Bieber has been spotted attending some games, among others.
Dustin Brown captains the brute Los Angeles squad who for the most part will see their first Stanley Cup action. Both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were members of the Philadelphia Flyers when they made it to the Cup final and Dustin Penner won it with the Anaheim Ducks a few years ago.
On defence, Drew Doughty, who has been a key contributor to the Kings playoff run, won the Gold medal with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Granted, it wasn’t a Stanley Cup but he definitely brings a strong leadership presence to the team. Anze Kopitar, a possible Conn Smythe winner, could lead the series in points and drive the offensive side for the Kings.
In goal, the Kings have Jonathan Quick who has been playing like a man possessed, standing on his head through the first 3 rounds. He outdid Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes in the last round who also had a stellar performance. With his 1.54 Goals Against Average, Quick has the ability to very well steal this year’s Cup for the Kings. Another X-Factor on this team is Dustin Penner. His overtime goal sealed the victory for Los Angeles in the last round and if given the opportunity, he might have a few more tricks up his sleeve.
On the other side of the puck, the New Jersey Devils are loaded with seasoned playoff veterans starting with their goalie, Martin Brodeur. Eclipsing the young age of 40 years old, Brodeur has been a confident and reliable tender this year, outdoing the likes of Henrik Lundqvist and taking New Jersey into the final round of the playoffs.
Since 1995, the Devils have played in 4 Stanley Cups, having won it in 1995, 2000 and 2003. All 4 of those Cup finals’ were played with Brodeur in net. Game 1 of the finals will be his 200th career playoff game and seeing that this is the last year of his contract, it could very well be his last few games in the NHL.
At forward, perennial all-stars Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk have been absolute dynamite in leading the charge for the Devils. Kovalchuk currently leads the team in points at 18 and Parise close with 14. Both can be deadly in the offensive zone, having the ability to completely change the dynamic of a game with their blistering snipeshots.
The Devil’s have two possible X-Factors as well. One, Travis Zajac who centres the top line and Patrick Elias who has been a member of two New Jersey Cup winning teams. Both can be critical pieces in swaying the series in New Jerseys direction.
My prediction: Los Angeles Kings in 7 games and Jonathan Quick for the Conn Smythe.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think? Tell us below in the comments and feel free to follow me on Twitter: @raybramson17