The NHL’s Stanley Cup Final series gets underway on Wed. May 30th and at the end of the best-of-seven-game series the Los Angeles Kings will have won the cup for the first time in their history or the New Jersey Devils will have lifted it for the fourth time. Both teams are surprise finalists since Los Angeles was the eight-seeded team in the Western Conference and the Devils were sixth place in the East.
New Jersey managed to get by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs in double overtime in the seventh and deciding game. After that, they beat the Philadelphia Flyers in five and the New York Rangers in overtime in game six. This is New Jersey’s fifth appearance in the final series since 1995. The last time they won the cup was back in 2003.
Kings First Final Since 1993
For the Kings, it’s their first final since back in 1993. The Kings ousted the league’s top team, the Vancouver Canucks, in the first round in five games and then eliminated the second-seeded St. Louis Blues in four and third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes in five when Penner gave them the winning goal to send them to the final. Los Angeles didn’t sew up their playoff spot until the last weekend of the regular season and lost their last two season games.
The Kings have lost just two games during the playoffs and have been remarkable on the road by winning all eight of their away games. They’ve now won 10 straight postseason contests dating back to last season. New Jersey and Los Angeles met just twice this season with New Jersey winning 3-0 and then 2-1 in a penalty shootout.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter and New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer like to use all four forward lines as much as possible and DeBoer prefers to juggle his lines following a loss. The Devils’ top two threats are definitely Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. They played most of the season on the same line, but have been separated for the playoffs. Kovalchuk has 18 playoff points while Parise is close behind him with 14.
Center Travis Zajac and winger Dainius Zubrus are playing well and should be important in the Stanley Cup final, but Patrik Elias is struggling on the scoreboard after posting 78 regular season points. However, he’s still been playing effectively. The fourth line of Ryan Carter, Steve Bernier, and Stephen Gionta are also contributing.
The Kings had trouble scoring during the regular season, but 15 different players have managed to find the back of the net at least once during the playoffs and 15 have at least one assist. The top five forwards are leading the way though. These are Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards. Brown leads the offense with 16 points. In addition, Dwight King has chipped in with five goals after spending most of the season in the minors.
Both teams have six solid defencemen they like to roll out and they can all produce some offence as well. The Devils’ depend heavily on Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador while Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, Peter Harrold, and Anton Volchenkov are all playing consistently well.
Los Angeles gets most of its offensive from the blue line from Drew Doughty, who has 10 points so far in 14 games. The rest of the Kings defencemen have a combined 11 points. Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi have been great in their own end.
Devils Put Their Hope to Veteran Brodeur
In net, the 40-year-old Martin Brodeur will be playing his fifth final with New Jersey, and even though he’s one of the best to ever play the game and holds numerous records, King’s goaltender Jonathan Quick has been simply amazing with a goals-against average of 1.54 and a save percentage of 94.6. He’s also allowed just one goal or less in six of the 14 games he’s played.
Our Predictions for Kings vs Devils
The Kings are struggling on the power play, but their penalty killing has been exceptional and also has five shorthanded goals. If they can get the power play to produce at the same level they’ll be tough to stop. Both teams like to play a strong forechecking game and this should produce numerous scoring chances. When all is said and done, the goaltending of Quick could be the difference and the Kings should lift their first ever Stanley Cup after about six games.
5Dimes offers good lines of all games, winner bets and much more. For non US bettors William Hill seems to be having the best odds and currently offers the odds of a Los Angeles Stanley Cup win at 10/17 with the Devils at 6/4.
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