Stanley Cup Finals 2012: Game-by-Game Predictions for Rest of Series
After what the world has seen from the Los Angeles Kings throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, few would be surprised if the Finals ended in a quick, short series with the Kings defeating the New Jersey Devils and hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads for the very first time in franchise history.
It will be a beautiful, touching and memorable ending.
It is highly unlikely that patterns will be broken during the remainder of the series. The Kings will dominate road games and outplay players and teams that, going into the playoffs, no one would have thought possible.
The King's will rely heavily on defense, resulting in low scoring games, but it's a strategy that works extremely well for them—well enough to do what many would have called highly unlikely a few short months ago and that’s win the cup in five games in New Jersey.
Call it destiny, call it fate, call it a Cinderella story, but Los Angeles is a city where dreams can come true, and for the Los Angeles Kings, they will.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Kings will take Game 3.
One area that the Kings especially prosper in is their attitude and spirit. The Kings have a lot of life in them. When they score they scream in excitement.
They have confidence and belief in their ability to win and they show their joy during their post-goal celebration. They play like they realize the significance of what they have accomplished.
When Anze Kopitar scored in Game 2, the look in his eyes said something like, “Hey, I just scored, against Martin Brodeur in the Stanley Cup Finals. This is the moment I've worked my whole life for. This is unbelievable," because it is actually quite unbelievable.
But there are things that statistics can’t predict, and you can’t measure heart, will or desire.
The Staples Center will have an insane energy when it welcomes the Kings back to Los Angeles, and there will be plenty of momentum and excitement to build on. They play well at home too, and having them walk back into the Staples Center up two games will fire up everyone in attendance.
Kings will control most, if not all of the game. They run the show on defense, and the Devils are having a hard time finding a way to shut them down.
In two games, the Devils have scored twice in fluke circumstances, both of which the core nucleus of the Devils were not involved. One goal was deflected off the Kings' Slava Voynov and the second was also a result of a deflection, only off the Devils' Ryan Carter.
On the Kings' side, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter will score enough to win but not much more, because that's just their style. The team as a whole will prevent the Devils from getting to their net.
The Kings will take the lead into the third period, but like game one and two, the score will be very close and this is when things will start to get a little bit dirty.
The Devils will begin to feel a little bit desperate. Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur explained that they still feel good about their chances, but they're embarrassed about some aspects of their performance.
However, Parise especially is already starting to get dirty to try and get the job done, such as trying to score with his hands. We will go into game four with that kind of vibe.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
New Jersey will win Game 4.
Statistics and merit haven’t been the sole determining factors in the NHL playoffs but, regardless, the New Jersey Devils have too much talent and playoff experience to get swept in four games.
Even though the Los Angeles Kings took out the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeded teams and defied everything anyone thought that they knew about playoff hockey, it's still far fetched to think that they will sweep Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Martin Brodeur in four games.
The Devils are capable of much more than they gave in Games 1 and 2. Alternatively, It's hard to believe that the Kings are able to give more than they already are. L.A. are already giving 110% and have done throughout the entire playoffs.
Realistically, Games 1 and 2 could have gone either way, the Kings just aren’t giving the Devils the chance to score, which makes New Jersey's juiced forward lineup temporarily obsolete. There haven't been a lot of shots on Jonathan Quick, only 17 in game one.
In the regular season, the Devils beat the Kings in both meetings. They're more of a scoring-based team while the Kings rely on defense.
Game 4 will be a little bit rougher than the previous games to try to bring on power-plays because they are a weak area for the Kings and because discipline will be lost due to frustration.
The Devils will be forced to play a desperate game, something that they are much less accustomed to than the Kings are. Going into the playoffs, the Kings were No. 8 in the Western Conference out of 15 teams. They remember being mediocre, the Devils' first line, on the other hand, probably doesn't.
Martin Brodeur will come to the rescue as the last line of defense. The Kings defense is so vital because Brodeur is so hard to score on. A much more workable formula for them is to prevent scoring opportunities, which they have done so well throughout the entire playoffs, than to try to play a scoring game.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
After the Devils' Game 4 win, the Kings will take it back to New Jersey and win in the Prudential Center.
The Kings own road games. They are currently 10-0, having not yet lost on away from Staples Center during the postseason.
Therefore, it would be both symbolic and fate for them to be handed the cup in New Jersey. In addition, the Kings have won all of their series in the postseason in four or five games. They don't do Game 6 or 7. There is no reason for them to try one out now.
Throughout the series, players like Ilya Kovalchuk have been ineffective. It's sometimes hard to remember which players have 100 million dollar contracts (it's the Devils).
There is no reason to believe that the Devils will all of the sudden begin to play to the level that they are capable of, if they haven't already. Martin Brodeur can't score nor can he overcome the Kings' defense.
Once the Kings are back on the road, they will wrap this series up immediately.