Stanley Cup Predictions 2012: 4 Reasons Why New Jersey Will Come Back Against LA
Despite being down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings, the New Jersey Devils have some impressive things to lean on as they look to crawl back into the series tonight at the Staples Center.
Twice the Devils forced the mighty Kings into overtime and in Game 2, were a couple of inches away from knotting the series up at one game apiece after Ilya Kovalchuk's shot rang off of the crossbar with seven seconds left in regulation.
The Kings have been "road warriors" the entire postseason and improved to a perfect 10-0 away from home after the first two games in New Jersey.
The Devils have gotten solid goaltending from Martin Brodeur and held a "red-hot" Kings offense to four goals in two games.
In order for New Jersey to still have a shot at the Cup, they must win tonight in Game 3. Otherwise, the most coveted prize in the NHL will be headed to Hollywood for the first time ever.
The Devils Have Had Their Chances
Don't be fooled by the two goals in two games. The Devils, despite their lack of offensive numbers, have had plenty of scoring chances that could have easily tilted the series the other way if they converted them.
Twice in Game 1 Devils right winger Dave Clarkson had a wide open net and couldn't capitalize as New Jersey forced the Kings back deep in their own zone.
L.A. goaltender and Vezina Trophy finalist Jonathan Quick maintains the ability to play low and take away the entire bottom of the net, forcing the Devils to put shots up high.
Ilya Kovalchuk missed his chance with a wrist shot off the crossbar as the closing seconds ticked away in Game 2.
All New Jersey has to do is keep applying the pressure on Quick. The Kings absolutely dominated the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals, and Quick wasn't tested with a whole lot of chances.
The Devils have made Quick work for every save, and if they continue to attack at the pace they've been playing at, this could very well be a series that goes six or seven games.
Martin Brodeur Is in Net for New Jersey
Throughout his illustrious career, Martin Brodeur has come through when it matters most.
These Stanley Cup Finals have been no different. He has let in an early first period goal in the first two games of the series but other than that, he's been the reason the Devils have kept it close in both games.
Unfortunately for Brodeur, Jonathan Quick has just been that much better.
Brodeur has saved 53 of 57 shots in the Stanley Cup Finals and has halted L.A.'s scoring chances with one swipe of the glove.
His stacking of the pads save on L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty in the third period of Game 3 was the highlight stop of the Finals so far, and the New Jersey offense has fed off his phenomenal saves.
Chants of "Marty" from the New Jersey faithful have helped swing the momentum in the Devils favor, and as long as Brodeur is between the pipes, they will always be a contender for the Cup.
Dustin Brown Has Been Obsolete
In the Kings first 14 games of the postseason, Dustin Brown racked up 16 points. Since the Finals began, he hasn't picked up a single point and was held without a shot in Game 2.
The Devils defense has done an exceptional job silencing L.A.'s top scorer and has made him a non-factor early in the series.
Mark Fayne and Peter Harrold have done a great job controlling the tempo for the Devils and have held the Kings' relentless offense in check.
Martin Brodeur even drew a goalie interference penalty on Brown in Game 1, killing the momentum the Kings had generated after their first period goal.
The Devils have gotten to the heart of L.A.'s postseason offense and must continue to do so if they want to have a shot at winning the Cup.
As long as New Jersey has Ilya Kovalchuk on the ice, a comeback is always a possibility.
Kovalchuk has been as relevant for the Devils as Dustin Brown has been for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals but is always capable of turning the game around with one shot.
Kovalchuk stormed through the first three rounds with 18 points in as many games but hasn't been able to get anything going in the first two games against L.A..
New Jersey fans booed him when he's passed the puck in the offensive zone instead of ripping one at Jonathan Quick.
Kovalchuk finished the regular season with 37 goals and 46 assists and continued that dominance as the postseason ensued.
He's only taken three shots in the first two games of the Finals. L.A.'s defense has been stingy all postseason, allowing 24 goals in 16 games, so Kovalchuk isn't alone.
New Jersey's offense is centered around Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, and so far they haven't gotten any productivity from either of its two superstars.
Kovalchuk needs to be more aggressive and fire away. He only has three shots in two games.
It couldn't hurt.