6:07 pm May. 30, 2012
The New Jersey Devils have won the Stanley Cup three times in their history and in each instance, they wore out their opponent with solid defensive hockey. But their bid to win a fourth Cup is going to come down to offense.
The Kings and the Devils have been two of the top offensive teams during this year's playoffs. The 2.93 goals averaged by the Kings rank them third among N.H.L. playoff teams, while the Devils are right behind, having averaged 2.83 goals per game.
For the Devils, winning Game 1 at home tonight is crucial. The Kings are 8-0 on the road during the playoffs and have won Game 1 away from Los Angeles in each of their three series victories. It's been a very long time since a team has steamrolled through the playoffs like the Kings have done this year.
Los Angeles has beaten the Western Conference's top three seeds in reaching the final, and each team played a different style of hockey. The Kings have excelled at getting under the skins of their opponents and inducing them to take needless penalties. Combined with an impressive and aggressive forecheck, they have simply exhausted their opponents.
New Jersey will need Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise to rise to the occasion again by, well, scoring. They were able to eliminate the Rangers because New York's best players, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, had too many shifts where they failed to make an impact.
The Devils need a hero. Or better, two.