Los Angeles Kings: 5 Ways LA Can Close out Series
The Los Angeles Kings are on the brink of finishing off one of the most impressive postseason performances in the history of professional sports.
They're perfect 10-0 record on the road and their ability to win game after game is something unheard of from a No. 8 seed.
After taking the first two games in New Jersey, the Kings will take on the Devils in Game 3 at the Staples Center tonight as they try to continue their postseason dominance and come one win closer to hoisting their first Stanley Cup.
The Devils did a solid job applying pressure in the L.A. zone, but their inability to capitalize on scoring chances was a huge part in why they left the Prudential Center down 2-0 in the series.
Up to this point, the Kings have done almost everything right. Their forecheck has helped them establish scoring opportunities, and they are getting help from everybody on the ice.
Not to mention they have Jonathan Quick in net.
If the Kings can keep up this kind of hockey they're playing—the kind of hockey they've been playing throughout the postseason—then a sweep of the Devils is eminent.
Talk about a Hollywood ending.
Keep Containing Ilya Kovalchuk
Los Angeles has done an excellent job keeping the Devils best sniper at bay in the first two games of the series.
Ilya Kovalchuk came into the Stanley Cup Finals on a tear, racking up 18 points in the first three rounds, including five points in New Jersey's final three games against the Rangers.
Against L.A., however, it has been a tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the former No. 1 overall pick.
Kovalchuk has yet to get a point in the series and has a total of three shots on goal. In Games 5 and 6 against New York, he recorded four points alone.
He was able to get more points against the Rangers than he's been able to get shots on goal against the Kings.
Kovalchuk was dangerously close to ending the game in regulation as his shot rang off the crossbar with 16 seconds remaining in the third period.
Although his ice time has increased in the series, his production has not. For the Devils to have any chance in this series, Kovalchuk must improve drastically.
Get the Power Play Going
Despite all of their success in the 2012 playoffs, the Kings have been absolutely abysmal on the power play.
Los Angeles is a whopping 6-for-77 with the man advantage. Good enough for a shade under eight percent.
Last year's Stanley Cup champs, the Boston Bruins, were dreadful on the power play as well, and many wondered if the Bruins could win it all with their inability to capitalize on the man advantage.
It worked for them, and it's working for the Kings.
L.A. scored three power-play goals in the first two games against Vancouver in the opening round but has gone ice cold since.
With all of the Kings' success so far, it's hard to imagine they've done anything wrong. A strong power play can only help L.A..
Jeff Carter Needs to Touch the Puck More
Jeff Carter's blocker side game-winning wrist shot in Game 2 was a beautifully set up goal.
Granted, it took a missed shot the first time to help set it up.
When the Kings traded defenseman Jack Johnson for Carter at the trade deadline, they were hoping for a goal scorer who could come through in the clutch and put up points on a consistent basis.
For the most part, Carter has been that guy for L.A..
Carter has six points in his last six games but has gone without a point in three of those six games. His hat trick against Phoenix in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals showed flashes from Philadelphia when he was a 46-goal scorer for the Flyers just three years prior.
His 6'4" frame makes him a physical threat whenever he steps on the ice, and his tremendous vision makes him one of the most dangerous threats for L.A..
Carter became very familiar with the Devils during his six years in Philadelphia and has already lost once in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This year, the odds are in his favor to win it all.
Pump Up the Pressure
During the Western Conference Finals, Los Angeles out shot Phoenix 203-132 in five games. The Kings averaged 40 shots per game against the Coyotes.
In two games against the Devils, L.A. has only put 57 shots on net. Maybe the jittery atmosphere of the Stanley Cup Finals has the Kings playing a bit more conservative and afraid of making a costly mistake, but they're aggressive play has worked all postseason.
The Kings are still dominating the forecheck, but haven't put nearly as many shots on Brodeur as they put on the Coyotes' Mike Smith.
To the Devils credit, they have been the most successful of the Kings' four opponents this postseason in terms of shutting down their relentless attack.
With the Kings playing the next two games at home, and the rowdy L.A. crowd screaming all game long, the Kings should be more aggressive in terms of firing away at Brodeur with solid opportunities.
Why fix something if it isn't broken?
Win Game 3
The Kings have won the first three games of every series they've played in and even swept the powerful St. Louis Blues in the second round.
Only three times in the history of the NHL has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series.
If Los Angeles can take Game 3 at the Staples Center tonight, they are all but guaranteed to win the Stanley Cup.
Kings forward Jeff Carter was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers team that came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
This time, Carter is on the other side of the equation and is hoping for a different ending.