2012 Stanley Cup Finals Game #1
#8 Los Angeles Kings at #6 New Jersey Devils
Best of Seven Series Format 2-2-1-1-1
Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Prudential Center – Newark, New Jersey
Series Price: (odds courtesy of bookmaker) LAK -175 / NJD +155
Game #1 Opening Money Line: Kings -120 / Devils +100
Game #1 Current Money Line: Kings -110 / Devils -110
Game #1 Opening Total: 4 1/2 over -110 / under -110
Game #1 Current Total: 4 1/2 over -125 / under +105
Imagine if this year’s NBA Finals were between the Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic or the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. All made the playoffs but were among the highest seeded teams.
That is the exact same scenario that happened in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The #8 Los Angeles Kings won the Western Conference by beating the top three seeds, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, and Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings have done so by losing only 2 games on the way to their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1993. LA beat Vancouver and Phoenix in 5 games, and swept the Blues. In each series the Kings took 3-0 series lead. The Kings have won 10 straight road playoff games dating back to last season. The Kings have never won the Cup in their 44 year history, and have the second longest title drought in the NHL behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs. LA is only the 2nd #8 seed to make the Stanley Cup Finals after the 2006 Edmonton Oilers.
The Kings will take on another unlikely finalist, in the #6 seeded Eastern Conference Champions New Jersey Devils. The Devils beat the #3 seed Florida Panthers in 7 games, the last 2 in overtime after the Panthers took a 3-2 series lead. New Jersey then beat the rival Philadelphia Flyers in five games after dropping the first game in overtime. The Devils then beat the arch-rival New York Rangers in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. New Jersey won game 6 in overtime to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2003. The Devils won 3 Stanley Cups from 1995 to 2003, and played in a fourth Stanley Cup Final in that time period. New Jersey is only the second #6 seed to make the Stanley Cup Finals after the 2004 Calgary Flames.
New Jersey won both meetings between the teams, but I don’t know if that means much since both games were very early in the season. The Devils won October 13 2-1 in a shootout and at LA October 25 3-0.
The Kings are coached by Darryl Sutter, who took over the team in December. LA is outscoring opponents 2.93-1.57 in the post season. LA has scored 41 goals in the playoffs and allowed 22 in 14 games. The Kings have struggled on the power play this post season with only 6 goals on 74 chances with an 8.1% conversion rate. However, they have been sensational on the penalty kill, allowing only 5 goals in 57 tries (91.2% PK rate). More impressively, the Kings have scored 5 short handed goals during the playoffs, while not allowing any. The Kings are outshooting opponents 32.9-29.
The Kings have gotten here mainly because of the play of goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick has been fantastic during the postseason with an 12-2 record, a 1.54 goals against average, and a .946 save percentage. He has two shutouts during the playoffs, and has allowed 22 goals in 14 games. Quick is a Vezina Trophy finalist, given to the league’s top goaltender.
Kings right winger Dustin Brown has 16 points in the postseason including 7 goals to lead LA. Center Anze Kopitar has 15 points including 9 assists to tie for the team lead in the playoffs. RW Justin Williams has 11 points with 9 assists. Center Mike Richards has 11 points including 7 assists. Left winger Dustin Penner has 10 points with 7 assists. Defenseman Drew Doughty has 10 points with 8 assists. Jeff Carter has 9 points with 5 assists. LW Dwight King has 5 goals during the playoffs. Besides Brown, no other King has more than 6 goals in the playoffs, but 15 LA players have scored goals in the playoffs. LW Scott Parse and Center Simon Gagne are both out for the season.
New Jersey, coached by Peter DeBoer, is outscoring opponents 2.83-2.33 in the playoffs. The Devils have scored 51 goals and given up 42 in 18 games. New Jersey has scored 12 power play goals in 66 chances (18.2% PP rate). New Jersey’s penalty kill has struggled allowing 16 goals in 62 tries (74.2% PK rate). New Jersey has scored one shorthanded goal and allowed 2. The Devils are outshooting teams 30.4-27.6.
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is a certain first ballot hall-of-famer. The 41 year old has been in the league 20 years. He was won 3 Stanley Cups. This postseason, Brodeur has an 12-5 record with a 2.04 GAA and a save percentage of .923. He has one shutout and has allowed 37 goals. He also has 4 assists.
Devils’ left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has 18 points with 7 goals and 11 assists during the playoffs. He leads the Devils in all three categories. LW Zach Parise has 14 points with 7 goals. Center Travis Zajac has 12 points with 7 goals. Center Adam Henrique and defenseman Bryce Salvador both have 11 points iwth 8 assists. RW David Clarkson has 10 points with 7 assists. Fifteen Devils have scored in the playoffs. Henrik Tallinder is out for the season with a leg injury.
The Kings are 8-0 on the road, 6-0 as a playoff favorite of -110 to -150, 5-0 on 3 or more days rest, 5-0 as a road underdog, 7-1 as a playoff favorite, and after a win, 6-1 as a road favorite of -110 to -150, 11-3 in Wednesday games, 18-5 as a favorite, 21-7 overall, 20-8 as a favorite of -110 to -150, 25-10 against teams with winning records, 1-4 against Atlantic Division teams, and against Eastern Conference teams.
The Devils are 6-1 at home, 5-1 as an underdog, at home against teams with winning road records, 8-2 against teams with winning records, 4-1 as a home underdog, and against Western Division teams, 18-6 overall, 5-2 after a win, 7-3 against Pacific Division teams, and 2-5 after 3 or more days rest.
Most people wanted to see the Rangers instead of the Devils, only because it would be New York versus Los Angeles. However, LA and New Jersey will be a better series. These two teams play a similar style. Now, besides Brodeur, there isn’t a lot of star power that casual hockey fans would recognize. However, there are some very talented players like Quick, Brown, Kovalchuk, and Parise. It is hard to pick against the Kings as hot as they have been on the road. LA wins their first Stanley Cup in 5 games.
Our hockey handicappers are red hot in the playoffs. Don’t miss out on any more winners until the raise the Cup!