So my friends, we've finally come to the end of another NHL season. The spectacle of hockey that is the Stanley Cup will be starting in two days, and the combatants will be the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils. It will surely be a series worth watching and one that will go down in history, but before we jump into actually watching it, let's take a look at what we're faced with with both teams.
The Devils are the more playoff proven of the two squads, and this will play into their favor during the series. They have an all-time great between the pipes in Marty Brodeur. He has proven that, despite being at the not so tender age of 40, that he still can command and win games for an NHL team. So far in these playoffs, he's boasting a .923 save percentage, with a goals against average of 2.04 goals per game. These numbers solidify the fact that Marty is still the real deal and will be a challenge for the Kings of Los Angeles. A bit of a troubling stat for the Devils, though, is the plus/minus of some of their top players- Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. While they are scoring points (in fact, Kovalchuk has 18 points in 17 games), they are all minus players. The largest minus between these players is -4 from Kovalchuk. Some people may write this stat off as nitpicky or unimportant, but I feel that it shows that perhaps they have to play a bit more defense. If Ilya Kovalchuk is scoring more than a point per game, and is still a -4, then there's something wrong in my eyes.
The Kings are constructed very much like the Devils, but they're younger. They have an extremely strong nucleus of players, which include Vezina trophy finalist Jonathan Quick, star blueliner Drew Doughty, and ex-Flyers Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, and Mike Richards. After coming into the playoffs in the 8th seed, they've steamrolled their way to the Finals, knocking out the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd seeds, the first team 8 seed to do this. If you were impressed by Brodeur's stats, you might want to check Quick's- an unreal 1.46 goals against average and a staggering .946 save percentage through 14 games. Out of those 14, he's only lost 2. In addition to Quick's stats, the play of the team around him has been phenomenal, and they're getting great secondary scoring. Rookie Dwight King has scored five goals in these playoffs, and Anze Kopitar has scored 15 points in 14 games, and owns a +13 rating. They have been running like a well oiled machine and it appears as if there's no stopping them at this point.
Needless to say, it will be a series where each goal matters and it will probably have a lot of 1 goal games. Both of these teams deserve the to be in the positions they're in because they've played great, and neither team deserves to lose the series. They both went against the odds and took care of business, and I applaud them both for doing so. However, my prediction for the series is that the Los Angeles Kings will win it in 6. My reasoning is that the Kings are not just a hot team, they are made up of talent that has proved their worth for years at young ages. The Devils, despite being playoff tested, have not looked as completely defensively as the Kings have. However, in the Devils defense, they have been playing arguably the best team in the league for the past 6 games, while the Kings were destroying a Coyotes team that frankly was not very good. Regardless, the team they have is tough enough to come out on top and I think that you'll see Dustin Brown holding the Stanley Cup Trophy above his head come game 6.
But my opinion isn't the only one that matters. I want to hear yours too! Comment below, or tweet me @tartmaster. Also be sure to follow @first_tensports for breaking sports stories and constant article updates!