Kings vs. Devils: Why Stanley Cup Foes Are Evenly Matched

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IMay 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25:  Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against Andy Greene #6 of the New Jersey Devils at Staples Center on October 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.   The Devils won 3-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings are about as unlikely a matchup as you could get, but it should still make for an incredible series, given how many things these two squads have in common.

Whoever takes home the 2012 Stanley Cup—the Devils or Kings—will be the lowest seed in the history of the NHL to do so. However, there's no doubt that this matchup is between the two hottest teams in the sport.

Here is how these two teams are nearly identical going into the Stanley Cup.

Elite Goaltending

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 25:  Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks on against the New York Rangers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 25, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There is nobody hotter in the NHL than Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick was a great goaltender during the regular season, but he's taken his game to another level during the playoffs.

During the season, Quick had a goals against average of 1.95, which has shrunk even smaller, to 1.54, during these playoffs.

To put into perspective just how great he's been, Quick had allowed 41 goals in 12 previous playoff appearances. But in this postseason, he's allowed just 22 goals in 14 appearances for Los Angeles.

That is pure dominance.

On the other side, the Devils have one of the greatest goaltenders ever to play between the pipes. Martin Brodeur has had a resurgence of late, as evidenced by the incredible job he did keeping the Devils in Game 6 against the New York Rangers when his team's offense went cold.

Brodeur improved his GAA from the regular season too, going from 2.41 to 2.04 in the playoffs.

But his experience will be incredibly valuable to New Jersey, and he is clearly superior to Quick in that regard.

Both teams have elite goaltenders playing at elite levels right now. This series could come down to which goaltender does it better, and that will make for a nail-biting Stanley Cup Final.

Scoring Depth

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 22:  Jeff Carter #77 and Mike Richards #10 react after Dustin Penner scores the game-winning goal in overtime as the Kings defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playo
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It's no surprise that the two teams who have enjoyed the most success from all of their lines during the playoffs are the two teams left.

The Kings have been getting great production from their non-top lines since the playoffs began. The Los Angeles' second line of Dustin Penner, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter has scored 11 goals and tallied 19 assists.

Los Angeles has also enjoyed eight goals and seven assists from their third line of Jarret Stoll, Dwight King and Trevor Lewis.

The Devils' depth is unmistakable as well.

How about getting nine goals and 10 assists from a fourth line of Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta? Need I say more?

New Jersey has gotten some of the best play from the line you'd expect the least from. There's no doubt that the Devils have been getting a great deal of toughness, scoring and clutch contributions from Bernier, Gionta, and especially Carter.

The Stanley Cup Final promises to be competitive wall-to-wall solely based on the depth both teams possess.

Well Rested

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 22:  Goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings in action in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on May 22, 2012 in Glendale, Ar
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Despite going to a Game 7 against the Florida Panthers in the first round, the Devils haven't had to deal with too many long series along the way to the Stanley Cup Final. They took care of the Philadelphia Flyers in five games and disposed of the Rangers in six.

This has allowed them four days of rest before they take the ice for the biggest games of the entire NHL season.

On the flip side, the Kings have cruised to where they currently sit.

A 12-2 playoff record has allowed them an incredible amount of rest on the road to Lord Stanley's Cup, and, surprisingly, they haven't shown an ounce of rust as a result.

Los Angeles continues to take care of its opponents game-in and game-out, making it hard to believe that the extra rest will do anything but heal some of the team's nagging injuries.

The Kings will have had a full week of rest before they take on the Devils Wednesday night in Newark for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.


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