Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils: Why LA Will Dominate Rest of Series

Michael Carroll@mjcarroll531Featured ColumnistMay 31, 2012

Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils: Why LA Will Dominate Rest of Series

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    The Los Angeles Kings have dominated their opponents in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.  The Kings entered the playoffs with a chip on their shoulder as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. 

    In the first series, the Kings made it look easy against the Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks.  The Presidents’ Trophy, of course, goes to the team who earned the most points during the National Hockey League regular season. 

    Since then, the boys from Hollywood have not looked back, sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the second round and beating the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-1, in the Western Conference finals.

    In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings meet the New Jersey Devils, who came from the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.  The Devils needed double-overtime in Game 7 to sneak by the Florida Panthers in Round 1, outplayed a Philadelphia Flyers team in Round 2 and beat the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference—the New York Rangers—4-2 in the Eastern Conference finals.

    Both squads overcame more talented teams on paper to reach the championship round.  The Kings’ quest, though, is much more impressive.  Including last night’s win, 2-1 (OT), over New Jersey in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, Los Angeles has only lost two games in these playoffs and zero on the road.

    Considering the manner by which Los Angeles has become the best in the West, the Kings will win their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.

    Let’s take a look at how the Kings have truly become the monarchs of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Jonathan Quick

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    The Los Angeles Kings goaltender, Jonathan Quick, is a candidate for the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy.  In the playoffs, Quick has stepped up (or considering his goalie style, crouched down) even more.  Quick boasts a 13-2 record, a .946 save percentage and a 1.49 goals against average. 

    These three marks lead all goaltenders in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.  He leads the Conn Smythe Trophy race so far.

Plus-19 Rating

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    The Kings lead the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs with a plus-19 rating.  Individually, only one Kings player—forward Kyle Clifford—has a negative rating (minus-one).  Six Kings have a plus/minus rating over five,and three have a plus/minus rating over 10: Anze Kopitar (plus-14), Dustin Brown (plus-14) and Drew Doughty (plus-12). 

    This means Los Angeles has played excellent defense throughout the playoffs.  At a 2.87 goals per game clip in the playoffs, the Kings have scored enough to win, too.

    During the regular season, the Kings could not sound the siren much; they placed 29th of 30 teams in scoring (2.29 goals per game).  They got by all year on defense, only allowing 2.07 goals per game, good enough for second in the National Hockey League.

    Los Angeles has improved offensively and defensively from the regular season.  Great timing.

Undefeated Road Record

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    Usually in sports, a winning record on the road is great.  In the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings are 9-0 away from the Staples Center, including last night’s victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

    According to Google Maps, approximately 2,800 miles separate the Staples Center and the Prudential Center.  Though the Kings have won all their road games, this has to provide extra motivation for them to sweep the series.  A sweep would mean the Kings would not have to travel all the way back to New Jersey for Game 5.

Short-Handed Success

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    The Los Angeles Kings have killed off 91.5 percent of their opponents’ power plays in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.  Los Angeles has also scored five short-handed goals, which leads all playoff teams.

    Both the Kings and the New Jersey Devils placed in the top five in penalty kill percentage during the regular season.  The Devils were No. 1 overall (89.6 percent), and the Kings were No. 4 overall (87.0 percent). 

    Though the Devils penalty kill has slipped during the playoffs, both Stanley Cup finalists have played well with men down.  New Jersey also led the National Hockey League with 15 short-handed goals in 2011-12.

    With two teams built on defense and goaltending, something has to give in this series.

Overcoming Adversity

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    This season, the Los Angeles Kings played under three different head coaches: Terry Murray, John Stevens and Darryl Sutter.

    The Kings have gone undefeated in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs when getting outshot.

    Los Angeles has gone undefeated on the road in the playoffs.

    The Kings just made the playoffs as a No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, and they needed to beat the top three seeds in the Western Conference playoffs to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Their awful 8.0 power-play success rate in the playoffs has not mattered.

    They suffered through two five-game losing streaks, and one four-game losing streak, during the regular season.

    The Kings seemingly could not buy a goal in the regular season.

Outlook

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    During the regular season, the Los Angeles Kings were not gifted on offense.  This team played great defense and Jonathan Quick played like a Vezina Trophy winner, though.

    As the old saying goes, “Defense wins championships.”  The Kings have stopped the puck just as brilliantly in the postseason, but now they have found a scoring touch.  This makes Los Angeles more well-rounded.

    When the Kings hoist the Stanley Cup in 2012, it will be all good in Hollywood.