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Kings vs. Devils: How they match up

A look at the two Stanley Cup Final teams during regular season and postseason play.

May 29, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • The Kings' Anze Kopitar and the Devils' Patrik Elias, right, seek control of the puck in the second period of a game early in the season.
The Kings' Anze Kopitar and the Devils' Patrik Elias, right,… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

NEW JERSEY

Regular season: 48-28-6 (102 points)

Playoffs: Def. Florida, 4-3; Def. Philadelphia, 4-1; Def. N.Y. Rangers, 4-2.

KINGS

Regular season: 40-27-15 (95 points)

Playoffs: Def. Vancouver, 4-1; Def. St. Louis, 4-0; Def. Phoenix, 4-1.

Season series: Devils 2-0-0.

Regular-season power play: New Jersey 17.2% (14th). Kings 17.0% (17th).

Postseason power play: New Jersey 12-66 (18.2%). Kings 6 for 74 (8.1%).

Regular-season penalty killing: New Jersey 89.6% (1st). Kings 87% (fourth).

Postseason penalty killing: New Jersey 46 for 62 (74.2%). Kings 52 for 57 (91.2%).

Regular-season leading scorers: New Jersey—Ilya Kovalchuk 37 goals, 46 assists, 83 points. Kings —Anze Kopitar 25-51, 76.

Postseason scoring leaders: New Jersey—Kovalchuk 7-11, 18. Kings — Dustin Brown 7-9, 16.

New Jersey outlook: Kovalchuk, who spurned a free-agent offer from the Kings in 2010, has been dangerous and leads all playoff scorers. Zach Parise (seven goals, 14 points) was a standout in the Devils' six-game elimination of the Rangers and rookie Adam Henrique (three goals, 11 points) has been impressive throughout. So has center Travis Zajac (seven goals, 12 points). These aren't the old, score-one-and-hang-on Devils. They rely on strong forechecking, balanced scoring and rugged defense, much like the Kings, and they got the puck to the net despite the Rangers' superb shot-blocking. They were pushed to seven games by Florida in the first round but haven't been on a plane since April 26. Goaltender Martin Brodeur (2.04 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) turned 40 on May 6. He made his NHL playoff debut in 1992, when Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was 2 years old.

Kings outlook: Starting on the road again shouldn't be a problem for the Kings, who won the first two away games in their first three series and closed out the first and third rounds on enemy ice. They're the first team to go 8-0 on the road en route to the Cup Final. Doughty (two goals, 10 points, plus-10) is playing the best hockey of his career at both ends. Left wing Brown (seven goals, 16 points) and center Kopitar (six goals, 15 points) are the scoring leaders and Conn Smythe contenders, but this has been an ensemble act with contributions from every line. They're strong up the middle with Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser. Jonathan Quick is the postseason leader and a deserving MVP candidate because of his 1.54 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. He also has two shutouts.

Prediction: The Kings are bigger and more versatile defensively, but New Jersey's fast, skillful forwards will be a challenge. Special teams should be a wash, because the Devils' penalty killers have struggled and the Kings have scored only one more power-play goal than short-handed goal (6-5). Hell freezes over: Kings in six.

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