The 2012 Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight with the Los Angeles Kings taking on the New Jersey Devils.
The series will start out at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Starting a series away from home will be a familiar feeling for the Kings, as they are the lowest seed in the Western Conference and but have only spent two more games than necessary away from Los Angeles.
The Kings took five games to dispatch the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, but then needed only four to get past the second-seeded St. Louis Blues. It took another five games for the Kings to get through the Phoenix Coyotes to advance to the finals.
The Devils, on the other hand, have had a long journey to the Stanley Cup Finals. They have played more than the minimum needed games in every series, going to seven games once, five games once and six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Considering the road to the finals for the Kings took dispatching the top three-seeded teams in the Western Conference, many people are automatically picking them to beat the Devils. Do not be so fast though, as the Devils have been playing really good hockey as well.
The two teams look fairly evenly matched going into tonight's game, with the Devils averaging 2.70 goals for per game and the Kings checking in at 2.85 goals for per game. The shot percent between both teams is also very close, with the Devils at 9.3 percent and the Kings at 8.9 percent.
The biggest difference is on the defensive side of things, where the Kings are allowing an average of 1.53 goals per game and the Devils are allowing 2.23 goals per game.
The area that is probably going to decide this series is on special teams, where the New Jersey Devils are scoring 18.2 percent of the time, compared to the Kings at 8.1 percent.
Considering that the Kings are averaging 14 penalty minutes a game (196 PIM in 14 games) it is certainly a big advantage for the Devils. There is another point with this though, and that is that the Kings have five short-handed goals through the playoffs and are killing penalties at 91.2 percent.
This looks to be an incredibly even matchup that will be thrilling for fans to watch.
Both teams are very deep with scoring threats from everywhere, having six players with 10 or more points for both teams.
The difference is the Kings have done it in four fewer games and are going to be too much for the Devils to handle and they will win the series in six games.