Stanley Cup Finals 2012: Top Storylines for Devils vs. Kings
The finals are set, and the Los Angeles Kings are taking on the New Jersey Devils for the Stanley Cup. The Kings and Devils were both underdogs to reach the finals, but their matchup will provide plenty of fireworks to keep fans entertained.
The NHL might have been hoping for a New York and Los Angeles final to put the two biggest markets in the country against each other, but this pairing will have to do.
Unless you are a diehard Devils or Kings fan, or have been closely following the playoffs, you might not be aware of the storylines that followed these two teams into the finals.
The 2012 Stanley Cup Finals will be one for the record books, and the subplots help make the series a must-watch for any sports fan.
Unlikely Conference Champions
To get to the finals the Kings and the Devils have knocked off several highly-seeded opponents. The eighth-seeded Kings and sixth-seeded Devils are the lowest-seeded tandem in NHL history.
The lowest-seeded team to win the Stanley Cup is currently a fifth seed. Regardless of who wins, the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals will be record-setting.
The teams in the finals might be the lowest-seeded teams in history, but they play like top seeds and are just as hungry for a championship.
Talented Young Americans
The 2012 Stanley Cup Finals feature two American-born captains in Zach Parise and Dustin Brown, who are both excellent leaders for their respective teams.
Hockey is nowhere near being the top sport in the United States, which is why there are so many Canadian and European players in the NHL. Parise and Brown will actually be the first pair of captains of American nationality to ever face off in the finals.
American viewers have a chance to watch two of the best young Americans in the NHL. Hopefully, the league is able to draw in a large audience and some new fans.
Elite Goaltending Matchup
The NHL playoffs are always a stage where goaltenders make a name for themselves, and the 2012 postseason has been no exception. Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick have both made headlines for very different reasons.
While his team was doing battle in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Brodeur turned 40 years old. But in spite of his advanced age, the Canadian stopper is still putting the final touches on a Hall of Fame career.
This is shaping up to be one last run for the three-time Stanley Cup champion. Another title would be the perfect way doe Brodeur to end his career.
Quick is at a completely different stage in his career. At 26 years old, he is just getting started and is using this postseason to put himself on the map.
While Henrik Lundqvist is considered by most to be the best goaltender currently in the NHL, Quick has gained some ground during his team's unprecedented playoff run.
If he can outplay a legend in Brodeur, many will argue that Quick has dethroned King Henrik.
Kings Road Domination
The Los Angeles Kings are making playoff history as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They have not played more than five games in each of the first three rounds and, more impressively, have still not lost a game on the road.
The Kings have won eight consecutive road games, which is an NHL playoff record, and with that have become the first team to reach the Finals without a setback away from home.
L.A.'s domination on the road has all but eliminated home ice advantage for their opponents. To win the Stanley Cup, the Devils will have to figure out how to beat the Kings at home.
Redemption for Richards and Carter
The Philadelphia Flyers made two of the biggest moves of the offseason when they traded away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
The Flyers decided to part ways with their stars to clear up cap space and go in a new direction. Richards was traded directly to the Kings, and during the season, Carter joined his former teammate in Los Angeles after being dealt by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Winning it all a season after being traded away would be the perfect way for Richards and Carter to prove their worth. Defeating the Devils—a team that eliminated the Flyers earlier in the playoffs—in the process would be icing on the cake.