New Jersey Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador had no goals and only nine assists in 82 regular-season games.
He has four goals and 14 points in 24 playoff games, including the game-winning goal Saturday.
What gives? Not even goaltender Martin Brodeur — the Devils' answer man — seems to know.
"We've been looking for him to score a goal all year, so he peaked at the right time, if you ask me," Brodeur said, smiling.
Salvador missed the entire 2010-11 season with a concussion. He spent the summer working out with teammate Zach Parise, who was recovering from a knee injury. Both scored goals in Saturday's 2-1 victory.
"Zach and I have joked about things," Salvador said. "This time last year we were worried about tying our shoes and trying to get into shape. I think being here was a goal for both of us."
Salvador had two assists in the Devils' 3-1 victory over the Kings in Game 4.
"I think it's great," Brodeur said. "I think it's well deserved, especially where he came from with spending a whole year on the sidelines not playing. To be able to come back and have the season he's got, the playoffs he's got, it's a credit to [his being] in the best shape he can be and well prepared."
Kings players have been inches from goals the past two games, hitting the post five times.
"I think breaks even out in the series," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Both teams get them. Both teams get breaks that go against them. We had a goal in Game 3 that shouldn't have gone. I think all that stuff evens out.… We can't worry about posts, missed calls, stuff like that. You just got to keep your head down, keep working."
Told you so
Devils Coach Peter DeBoer tried to tell everyone. But the rush to complete coronation plans for Kings was deafening.
DeBoer saw a different series when the Devils trailed the Kings 3-0.
"It doesn't feel like we're in as deep a hole as it seems," DeBoer said after Game 3.
Apparently, they weren't. After back-to-back victories Brodeur was torturing the Kings off the ice as much as he has on it, saying, "I think they're so close to winning the Stanley Cup that I'm sure it's getting to them a little bit."
The Devils and their coach noted that when they trailed 3-0 in the series, two of those losses were in overtime.
"We're still alive," Brodeur said. "We have a chance. It's not a difficult thing to get yourself ready for games like that. Now it's been two in a row. It drains you a lot. It takes a lot out of you. But it's worth it."
Asked if this was exciting, Brodeur said, "No, no, no, trust me. It's exciting to do what we're doing right now. We're having a great deal of fun. But we haven't done anything yet. That's why for us it's important to just keep it on the low-key there and just keep grinding it out and then we'll be just fine."