Number 1: its the Stanley Cup Final.
Number 2: these are two physical teams who possess some of the most dangerous scorers in the league.
Number 3: you have possibly the greatest goaltender of all time, going up against an up and comer who just might very well win this year’s Vezina. Boring? Not a chance.
These two teams are going to bring it. Most wanted the NYR to get through over the Devils, although I am not sure why. The Devils took it to the Rangers. New York is the one who played a largely defensive, safe system. They also would have been coming off their third 7 game series and might not have much left in the tank come time for the finals.
New Jersey is a very good team. Obviously, they rely heavily on Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise to supply the bulk of the offense and they have not let them down. But they also roll all 4 lines and have gotten a well balanced scoring attack because of it. The 4th line of Stephen Gionta, Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier has been outstanding and contributed some big goals. Danius Zubrus could be playing some of the best hockey of his career. Travis Zajac has been outstanding in the face off circle and played well despite missing the bulk of the season with injuries. Rookie Adam Henrique is not looking like a rookie at all. He has had 2 series winning goals (not too shabby) and he has shown the poise of a seasoned veteran. David Clarkson has struggled offensively but has been playing well, and if he regains his scoring touch for the finals, it would be huge for the Devils.
New Jersey’s defense has been solid but is lacking a true top 2 NHL pairing. They are led by Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky, who have handled most of the offense from the point, though Kovalchuk plays a full 2 minutes back there on the power play. Mark Fayne, Peter Harrold, Andy Greene and Anton Volchenkov round out the D, though rookie Adam Larsson made a cameo earlier in the playoffs and played well.
Then in goal, is only the all time leader for just about every goaltender record in Martin Brodeur. He just turned 40, but is playing about 10-15 years lighter. He struggled the odd game or two, but NJ would not be in the final without him. His back leg kick save on Marion Gaborik has been the save of the playoffs for me thus far, and his experience in big game situations could be the difference maker if New Jersey is to claim their 4th Stanley Cup.
The Los Angeles Kings follow a similar yet different blue print. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have been the go to guys for big goals in the playoffs. But the Kings can also throw Justin Williams, Dustin Penner and former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out there and know that a big goal can come off their sticks.The Kings depth is equally good if not better than the Devils with guys like Dwight King, Jarret Stoll and Brad Richardson all playing tremendous hockey at both ends of the ice.
The LA defense could be the difference in this series. Drew Doughty has been absolutely outstanding throughout the playoffs. He has logged big minutes and his play leads you to believe that he may put a Lidstrom-type stranglehold on the Norris Trophy in the coming years. And if there was an award for best defensive defenseman, look no further than Rob Scuderi. A key part of the Pens Cup winner, he is doing the same in LA and is vastly underrated. Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell have been towers of power on the second pairing and Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov have not looked out of place either.
Jonathan Quick could be the Conn Smythe favorite heading into the final. He has been nothing short of brilliant in the playoffs and given no indication that the finals will be any different.He will be hard to beat and the Devils will have to crash the net to be successful against him.
I think this is a great match up and will provide us with some great hockey. It will be a hard hitting, fast paced series and we could be in for an OT or two.
I think the Kings are just playing too good to lose. Their depth is greater than NJ with more scoring threats up front.
The edge on defense belongs to LA as well. Doughty is just unrivaled on the blueline right now.
Goaltending edge slightly to Quick, but Brodeur’s experience cannot be underestimated on this big stage.
I will pick the Los Angeles Kings to win their 1st Stanley Cup in 6 games over the New Jersey Devils.